Driver blames black market medication for passing out

Worthing County Court
Worthing County Court

A driver found with cocaine in his system claimed he had never taken the drug, blaming medication he bought illegally online.

Adam Hardwell, who lives at Willows Caravan Park in Lidsey Road, Woodgate, appeared at Worthing Magistrates’ Court yesterday. He pleaded guilty to three counts of being in charge of a vehicle while under the influence of drugs.

The court heard how the 48-year-old was found by passers-by slumped over the wheel of his Vauxhall car in Orchard Way, Barnham, at 7pm on Friday, January 6.

Hardwell was taken to St Richard’s Hospital by ambulance where blood tests revealed he had illegal levels of cocaine and diazepam, a prescription drug, in his system. The court heard Hardwell had ‘no recollection’ of the incident until he woke up at home the next day.

Solicitor Chris Chatterton, representing Hardwell, said his client was ‘astonished’ cocaine was in his system as he had ‘never used it’ – and said it must have been in the diazepam he bought online to treat his anxiety.

According to the probation officer present at the sentencing, Hardwell had purchased the drug illegally online after his doctor refused to prescribe it to him.

Mr Chatterton said his client was driving to the local shops when he had a panic attack. He felt unwell shortly after taking some diazepam so he pulled over, at which point he passed out.

The solicitor said his client ‘did the right thing at the time’ by pulling over. “He had no intention of driving in that condition,” he said.

The court heard how Hardwell’s drug habit began in 1993 after being released from prison, with heroin being his drug of choice. To control his addiction, he has engaged with the charity Change Grow Live since 2013 and is on a script for methadone.

During the sentencing, district judge Christopher James said: “What is disturbing is that you had in fact driven to that location, having taken the drugs.”

Hardwell, who is unemployed, was sentenced to a 12-month community order and five rehabilitation days. He was also ordered to pay the court £290 and was given a six month driving ban.

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