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Van driver went missing after fleeing scene of crash into cars and wall

PUBLISHED: 12:04 12 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:04 12 February 2020

West End Congregational Church in Withersfield Road, Haverhill  Picture: GOOGLE

West End Congregational Church in Withersfield Road, Haverhill Picture: GOOGLE

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A van driver has blamed a drug-induced coma for his failure to recall crashing into two parked cars and a wall - before running away from the scene.

Luke Thompsett vanished after crashing his work van into two cars and the wall of a church car park in Haverhill last June.

Police launched an appeal to trace the 38-year-old, who was thought to have suffered minor injuries and eventually returned home four days later.

Despite claiming no recollection since emerging from a coma, Thompsett, of Eastern Avenue, Haverhill, admitted careless driving, failing to stop and failing to report an accident at Suffolk Magistrates' Court on Tuesday.

Prosecutor David Bryant said Thompsett's silver Renault Trafic van was driven at speed along Withersfield Road, towards The Pightle, when the crash happened at about 6pm on Monday, June 10.

He described how the van swerved into a parked Volkswagen Eos, which then cannoned another vehicle into the wall of a house, damaging a gas main pipe.

The van then crossed the road, missing traffic before crashing into a brick wall outside the West End Congregational Church.

"He got out, ran away and didn't return," said Mr Bryant.

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Thompsett left a passenger at the scene, where a witness reported smelling cannabis and alcohol emanating from the van.

When later interviewed under caution, Thompsett failed to recall anything before entering a coma as a result of an overdose in July.

"He couldn't remember the last time he drove," said Mr Bryant.

"He recognised his work van but couldn't recall driving it.

"He denied ever using cannabis and said he hadn't been drinking."

Helen Korfanty, mitigating, said magistrates had wide discretion to impose driving points or a ban.

She said Thompsett had not chosen to run away in order to evade arrest on suspicion of drink or drug driving.

She said he went missing and suffered a breakdown following separation from his partner.

"He asks that disqualification is kept to a minimum, or that points are imposed on his licence, in order for him to return to work as soon as possible," she added.

Thompsett was given a 12-month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work for failing to stop; fined £50 for careless driving and failing to report the accident, and handed nine points, which, added to three for speeding in August 2017, activated a six-month ban.

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