A BANNED driver, who took his father’s car and fled the scene of a crash, has been jailed.
And he threw away his freedom for the sake of a packet of cigarettes, Reading magistrates heard.
In the dock on Thursday, February 22, was 45-year-old Daniel Thomas Mason of Church Street, Hampstead Norreys.
Last November he was given a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, after being caught drink-driving.
Tests had showed 138mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath in his system – nearly four times the legal limit of 35mcg.
It was his second drink-driving offence within 10 years and led to a 32-month driving ban.
And that should have been the end of the matter.
But then one night Mr Mason ran out of tobacco.
Charlotte Abbotts, prosecuting, said police were called to the scene of a two-vehicle collision on the B4009 Long Lane in Hermitage involving Mr Mason and another motorist.
She said Mr Mason had failed to stop – but among the debris at the scene was a front number plate, which led police to his home address.
In fact, the Audi A6 belonged to Mr Mason’s father, Paul, who had been out for the evening and who returned to find police had removed the vehicle – which subsequently had to be written off – from the driveway of the family home.
Mr Mason junior admitted driving while disqualified, aggravated vehicle taking which led to an accident, damage to another driver’s Vauxhall Meriva and driving while uninsured, all on January 6.
A charge of failing to stop after an accident was not proceeded with.
Mike Davis, defending, said his client’s father was in court to support his son.
And he told the court that, had it not been for Mr Mason’s resolve to be fully open and honest about what he had done, police would probably have had insufficient evidence to make the charges stick.
Mr Davis said there had been no alcohol involved this time and that the driver of the Vauxhall had been the one at fault in the collision.
He said Mr Mason had panicked and made off, but had since made full and frank admissions.
Just why his client had decided to risk everything for a smoke was “not easy to explain”, conceded Mr Davis.
But he suggested Mr Mason’s struggle with depression may have contributed to the disastrous impulse decision that night.
Mr Davis concluded by pleading with the court not to activate the suspended sentence.
But district judge Sophie Toms said: “What concerns me is the fact he was disqualified and had a suspended sentence hanging over him – yet he decided to drive anyway.
“The breach is so serious that the only option I have is to impose a custodial sentence.”
Mr Mason was sentenced to 18 weeks in jail.
In addition, he was ordered to pay a statutory victim services surcharge of £115.
Finally, he was banned from driving for 30 months.