Pair sentenced after drunken van crash

A man who got drunk, took the keys to his stepfather’s van and rolled it while speeding has been jailed for eight months.

Witnesses described how James Higham was driving at “excessive speed” when he smashed into a lamppost and roadsign on the A45 at Flore Hill, breaking his collarbone.

Higham and accomplice Louis Barr had been drinking together on the afternoon of September 16 last year, when they decided to take the van for a drive.

Northampton Crown Court heard on Monday that the van was seen to career across onto the wrong side of the carriageway before ending up on its roof.

Higham, aged 20, of Hillside Road, Nether Heyford and Barr, aged 18, of Butts Hill Crescent, Bugbrooke, were both taken to Northampton General Hospital.

The crash caused £10,000 of damage to the van, £2,000 to the lamppost and £4,000 to the roadsign.

The two men, who were both were given seven-month suspended sentences for affray in January, were jailed on Monday.

Higham admitted aggravated vehicle taking, driving with no license and insurance, and breaching a suspended sentence, and was sentenced to eight months.

Barr admitted being carried in a vehicle which had been taken without the owner’s consent, and was sentenced to four months, consecutive to the suspended sentence he is already serving.

Caroline Bray, prosecuting, said: “Higham lost control on a bend and both the defendants were injured as a result. Witnesses saw him veering across onto the other side of the carriageway.”

Rachel Law, for Barr, said: “He is just 18 and has always said it was an incredibly stupid thing to do.”

James McLernon, for Higham, said: “He understands they could have lost their lives and he was putting members of the public at risk.

“It was a terrifying experience and a salutary lesson. It is a mistake he won’t repeat. He is terrified of the prospect of being sent to custody.”

Sentencing the men, Judge Rupert Mayo said the events were a “remarkably stupid enterprise” and “a remarkably idiotic thing to do”.

Both men were also disqualified from driving for a year.