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Four-time convicted Carnoustie drink-driver ‘obliterated’ house in post-bash smash

The maximum prison sentence Simon Hart, who admitted causing the "catastrophic" crash, could have received was just four months.

Simon Hart caused 'catastrophic' damage. Image: DC Thomson.
Simon Hart caused 'catastrophic' damage. Image: DC Thomson.

A four-times convicted drink-driver, who caused tens of thousands of pounds of damage by crashing into a Carnoustie house after a wedding, has avoided imprisonment.

Simon Hart tried to drive his private-plated car home after boozing at the bash but “obliterated” a house on the corner of Tayside Street and Norries Road while travelling at double the speed limit.

Hart admitted drunkenly crashing into the vacant home, causing more than £47,000 of damage on April 17 last year.

He returned to the dock at Forfar Sheriff Court to be sentenced last week.

He was told the maximum sentence he faced was six months imprisonment but that would have to be reduced to four months due to his early plea so a sheriff said community service was more appropriate.

The court heard he has directly analogous convictions from 2002, 2007 and 2008.

Wedding crasher

Hart, 43, of South Esk Street in Montrose, had failed a roadside breath test and a urine sample taken more than two and a half hours later showed an alcohol reading of almost three times the limit (192mgs/ 67).

He admitted driving with excess alcohol and a not guilty plea to driving dangerously was accepted.

Car crashed into house on Tayside Street, Carnoustie
The badly damaged house. Image: DC Thomson

His solicitor Michael Boyd, said: “He’d been at a wedding for several hours.

“He accepts that he’d consumed alcohol.

“He’d been drinking water as well – he had thought that he was fit to drive, he wasn’t aware that he was over the limit.”

Simon Hart
Simon Hart at Forfar Sheriff Court. Image: DC Thomson

Mr Boyd explained his client has alcohol issues which had been under control since Hart’s last analogous conviction in 2008.

“It’s briefly touched upon that there are certain bereavement issues,” he said.

“He rightly accepts that as a consequence of that, he was finding solace in alcohol – he fully accepts that alcohol has been an issue in his life.

“He’s then lapsed back into the consumption of alcohol, he was then using alcohol to deal with issues.

“As a consequence of this matter, he lost his employment as a railway maintenance worker.”

He confirmed Hart has abstained from alcohol since the crash and last month began work offshore near Shetland.

Sentencing explained

Sentencing, Sheriff Derek Reekie said: “There’s nothing I can do to deal with the extensive damage to the property.

“Regardless of how many drink-driving convictions, the maximum custodial sentence is six months and the maximum fine is £5000 in Scotland.

“I had wondered about as substantial a fine as I could impose but I think this merits an alternative to custody.”

Forfar Sheriff Court.

He explained information from the sheriff appeal court shows the more serious the offence, the more viable the drink-driving rehabilitation course becomes.

He said: “You must be aware of the dangers of drink-driving.

“This is a serious offence, particularly when it is your fourth drink-driving conviction.

“I take account of the fact that the others are all over ten years old.

“The consequences of this were catastrophic and could have been more catastrophic.

“The damage to the house must have been extraordinary.”

He said he was “just persuaded that the public interest is best served” with a community sentence.

As a direct alternative to jail, the sheriff imposed 200 hours of unpaid work to be completed in a year.

He banned Hart from driving for 40 months, to be reduced to 30 months if he completes the drink-driving rehabilitation course.

‘Obliterated’ property

Fiscal depute Duncan McKenzie previously told the court: householders near the crash site heard Hart’s car travelling at speed in the 20mph zone at around 7.45pm

They said the driving was “idiotic”.

Those in the neighbouring house saw the collision, which caused “extensive damage”.

Carnoustie crash site
The house Hart smashed into was wrecked. Image: DC Thomson.

Mr McKenzie said Hart was able to get out of his car unaided and stated: “I didn’t see the corner. I was speeding. In all fairness, I must have been doing 40mph or 50mph.”

Mr McKenzie said: “He’d collided with the front window and door area, causing catastrophic structural damage to it.

“A large portion of the external wall had been obliterated.”

Other houses in the street suffered a power cut.

“The current estimate (for repairs) is in excess of £47,000 but is expected to rise considerably,” Mr McKenzie added.

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