Drink driver who crashed into a family home causing £26,000 of damage was over two and a half times over the legal limit

Home owners are left with a £26,000 repair bill while the driver is spared prison.

By James Barker
Tuesday, 09 July, 2019, 09:58
Whatnell reversed his Range Rover into the family home

Matthew Whatnell, 44, was more than twice the legal limit when he reversed through the front window of a family home on Ark Royal Close, in Blyth.

A court heard how the drink driver had been reversing at excessive speed when he collided with two parked cars and smashed into the property's living room, on July 26 2019.

Matthew Whatnell was sentenced to nine months imprisonment suspended for 18 months and has been disqualified from driving for three years.

Thankfully the family who occupied the address were out at the time of the collision but they were left with a £26,000 repair bill.

Intoxicated Whatnell, of Framwellgate Moor in Durham, was arrested at the scene and later gave a blood sample showing 206mg of alcohol in 100ml blood- the legal limit is 80mg.

He was charged with dangerous driving and driving whilst above the legal alcohol limit before pleading guilty at Newcastle Crown Court, on May 10 this year.

On Friday, July 5, he appeared at the same court and was sentenced to nine months imprisonment suspended for 18 months and has been disqualified from driving for three years.

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Damage to Whatnell's Range Rover

PC Dave Broderick, of Northumbria Police’s Motor Patrols Department, said: “This was a serious incident that could have been so much worse as there are lots of children who reside and play in the cul-de-sac.

“Similarly if the homeowners had been home watching TV in the front room then someone could have been seriously injured or even killed as a result of the incident.

“The home owners were unable to reside at the address for three months whilst it was repaired and the cost of repairs was in the region of £26,000 so this had a massive effect on the family.

“Whilst this sentence won’t change the financial and emotional stress the family have gone through, hopefully it will bring them some comfort to know that a dangerous driver is off the roads.”

Whatnell's Range Rover Sport HSE was worth between £60-70,000 when new.

Whatnell, who was over two and a half times over the legal limit, is now required to pass an extended driving test before being able to return to the roads and was also made to pay a £240 victim surcharge.