An alcoholic has been sent to prison for ramming his car into Chichester police station after becoming frustrated at the lack of help he was getting for his addiction.
Sean Mitchell was so enraged at the lack of progress on starting an alcohol treatment programme he had been assigned as part of a drink-driving sentence, that he took matters into his own hands to get noticed.
He rammed his Nissan Micra into the glass-doored entrance of the custody suite, in Kingsham Road, three times, before calmly reversing into a parking space where he waited to be arrested.
The 38-year-old, who was nearly four times the drink-drive limit when it happened on April 26, was this week sent to prison for 13 months.
Several weeks before the offence he was made the subject of a community order after being convicted of drink-driving which was, at that time, his second in two years.
The former scaffolder, who was living in his car at the time of the incident, was desperate for help to get dry, having lost his job, his family and his home.
Defending him at Chichester Crown Court on Monday, May 23, Piers Power said: “Probation were simply unable to organise and set up that quickly the alcohol treatment programme, which is what this defendant desperately wanted.
“He says he made sure there was no-one in the reception before he drove into it.”
Mitchell, of no fixed abode, was spotted as he drove into the car park by a member of police staff who asked him if he was lost.
Seconds after he told him he thought he was, he smashed into the doors. CCTV footage played at court showed a number of police officers rush into the empty reception area and warily check the coast was clear before approaching the defendant, who was in his car parked outside.
The court was told he had intended to crash into a police car in the car park, but could not find one.
An hour earlier he drove off from a Texaco petrol station on the A27 eastbound in Chichester without paying for £20 of fuel.
Judge William Wood said when sentencing: “It’s an extraordinary performance really – there is very obviously deliberate damage done.
“What you did was seriously criminal. It was potentially likely to injure someone, although we fully accept you had no wish to hurt anyone.
“But it was extremely foolish and wasteful of public money. If you need help, you know you can get help without deciding to commit this kind of criminal behaviour. I hope you have learnt a lesson.”
Mitchell had pleaded guilty to all the offences at Chichester Magistrates’ Court two days after the incident.
For making off without payment, he was sentenced to one month in prison, and for dangerous driving for 12 months, both of which will run consecutively.
He was given concurrent sentences of four months for driving while disqualified and five months for drink-driving. There was no separate penalty for driving without insurance.
The community order he had been given for drink-driving was revoked, and the 26 days he has already served in custody will count against the sentence.
Watch the video to see the car crashing into the custody centre.