A DRINK driver has been banned after he crashed his car and then drove eight miles home on three wheels.

Fergus Mitchell was more than three times the alcohol limit when he drove into another car on the A 3052 Sidmouth Road near the Cat and Fiddle pub but he did not stop.

His Mazda had lost one tyre and he drove back to his home in Exmouth on the wheel rim, leaving a shower of sparks in his wake which caused worried motorists to alert the police.

One couple were so concerned that they followed him into Exmouth and were able to direct police to his home when they arrested him shortly afterward.

They saw him lurch out of the car and go to the wrong house, only finding his own after he realised his key did not fit the lock on the front door.

He tried to claim that he had been drinking at home for two hours but later admitted that it was not true.

Mitchell, aged 42, of Larch Close, Exmouth, admitted dangerous driving and drink driving and was disqualified for three and a half years by Judge Stephen Climie at Exeter Crown Court.

He was ordered to take an extended retest before driving again, pay £500 compensation, put on an alcohol abstinence monitor for 120 days, and told to do 100 hours of unpaid community work and 30 days of rehabilitation activities.

The judge told him he was not imposing an immediate jail sentence because of Mitchell’s three children but said: “You were very heavily intoxicated on this occasion and according to one account you gave the police you were going to collect one of your children in the car, which would have been an extraordinarily high risk enterprise.”

Miss Zoe Kuyken, prosecuting, said Mitchell crashed his blue Mazda head on into another car near the Cat and Fiddle at 2.40pm on October 2 last year but did not stop.

Passers-by noticed he had lost the tyre off a front wheel and there was damage to the front off side and door, where the wing mirror had been torn off.

She said: “He pulled over for about 30 seconds and then drove off and went a substantial distance of eight miles to Exmouth swerving from left to right and with sparks coming off his wheel, which left a groove in the tarmac.

“On arrival in Exmouth he tried to put his key into the wrong front door and when officers arrived at 3pm they could smell intoxicating liquor on his breath.”

He blew an evidential reading of 122 microgrammes, well above the limit of 30 in a litre of breath. He claimed to have drunk a bottle of Prosecco and some lager at home but the only bottle seen by police was one of Heineken which was almost full.

The driver of the other car said he had suffered serious inconvenience and expense and was very shocked by the crash.

Mr Will Willden, defending, said Mitchell has sought help for his alcohol problem since the crash and is remorseful for his actions that day. He said that he is normally a “good chap” who works hard to provide for his three children.