'Demonic' driver seen punching himself in face while high on meth

GV - Ipswich Crown Court

Ipswich Crown Court

A meth-fuelled delivery driver was seen punching himself in the face while pursued along the A14.

Lee Bruce was described as 'looking demonic' by an off-duty police officer, whose actions, along with those of other motorists, helped end the 47-year-old's wild journey.

Bruce was handed a suspended prison sentence at Ipswich Crown Court on Tuesday.

He had already admitted dangerous driving and driving with 60 microgrammes of methylamphetamine per litre of blood – the limit being 10mcg – at an earlier hearing.

Simon Connolly, prosecuting, said Bruce was seen driving a Peugeot Boxer erratically along the westbound carriageway, between Woolpit and Rougham, at about 2pm on January 8 last year.

An off-duty police officer feared someone would be killed by Bruce's driving, as he dramatically changed speed, braked suddenly, collided with an embankment, and continued "as if oblivious to other vehicles" after crashing into the central reservation.

Mr Connolly said: "As the officer pulled alongside, he saw the driver punching himself in the face and arching back in his seat.

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"He said he'd never seen such erratic driving.

"He took the decision to stop the van by overtaking, driving in front and bringing it to an eventual stop.
"When he approached, he described the driver as looking demonic and hell bent on getting away."

Bruce, of Leyburn Crescent, Romford, was restrained and taken to hospital with a head injury, while exhibiting pin-prick pupils, blue lips, very pale skin and a manic appearance. 

He claimed to have been attempting to stay in the nearside lane, looking for a place to pull over, and told police a friend had given him the drugs to treat anxiety resulting from being the victim of a mugging days earlier.

Donal Lawler, mitigating, said there was evidence in the form of a 999 call to suggest Bruce had been the victim of a robbery.

He said Bruce had later been assessed for PTSD and had been receiving medication for anxiety and depression since 2018.

"What's frightening to him is that he was utterly unaware of how he was driving," added Mr Lawler, who said Bruce had not previously used the drugs before driving, until doing so after reacting badly to a standard victim care letter from the police.   

"He had been leading an enclosed life until this event. His world was relatively narrow. Subsequent to the street robbery, it became even more isolated.

"He is a manifestly nervous and vulnerable individual."

Judge Emma Peters praised the quick thinking of the off-duty officer, as well as other road users who effectively formed a rolling road block behind the van.

Judge Peters said she was "utterly appalled" by Bruce's driving, which she described as "up there with the worst of its kind".

"If you were so distressed that you needed medication, it should have been legitimately obtained from a GP," she added.

Bruce was was banned from driving for three years and handed a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 240 hours of unpaid work and up to 25 days of rehabilitation activity requirement.

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