A FUNERAL director panicked and fled after crashing into a neighbour’s van while over the drink-driving limit.
Thomas Jepson, who works in Buxton for a firm of family funeral directors with offices around Derbyshire, had drunk more than two and a half times the legal limit at a works party.
Magistrates at Chesterfield heard that he lost control of his Mini One saloon in Duke Street, Middleton-by-Wirksworth, on August 2.
He collided with a parked van and ran away but his brother, a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the accident, persuaded him to own up.
“He said he crashed because he took the corner too quickly and he panicked and ran away when he realised what he had done,” said prosecutor Helen Griffiths.
But Jepson, 25, then approached police officers with his hands held out, saying: “It was me - I was driving”, and he showed remorse for his actions.
Jepson, of Middle Croft, Duke Street, Middleton-by-Wirksworth, gave a reading of 88mcgs of alcohol in 100mls of breath, the limit being 35mcgs.
Presiding magistrate David Summers told him: “We hope you have learned a lesson” and imposed a £476 fine and a 20-month driving ban, with £85 costs.
“The whole family has felt shame at him being here today. His father is distraught about the whole matter,” said Mark Croft, for Jepson.
“He went to a works do at a restaurant in Matlock and his brother was trying to persuade him to get a taxi back but he decided to jump in the car and drive home. I’m sure drink clouded his judgement.
“The road is only just wide enough for two vehicles to pass and he collided with a parked van.
“He panicked and went missing but, as soon as police turned up, he came down his drive and was fully co-operative.”
Mr Croft said Jepson had been drinking following “a difficult and emotional funeral”.
He apologised to neighbours the next day, offered to pay for the damage he had caused to their vehicle, and they had “forgiven” him.
He added: “He works at the Buxton office of the family firm and he will have to get a lift to and from work.
“It’s the company as much as him that will suffer from his lack of ability to drive.”
Jepson’s ban will be cut to 15 months if he passes a drink-driving rehabilitation course.