Drunk driver’s death-defying joyride through York city center ends in prison

A drunk driver’s death-defying joyride through York city center ended when he crashed into a barrier near the railway station and mounted a kerb near pedestrians scrambling for safety.

William Stubbs, 27, was more than twice the legal drink-drive limit as his van swerved all over the road, nearly colliding with at least one vehicle, as he and his mate swigged from cans of lager, York Crown Court heard.

The terrifying incident, which was captured on CCTV, began in Rougier Street in the middle of the afternoon when the Citroen Berlingo van – owned by Stubbs’s father but which he was insured to drive – came round the corner “at speed” and swerved into the road, said prosecutor Rhianydd Clement.

It then skidded and “swerved around” the road towards oncoming traffic and a bus parked at a bus stand, before mounting a pavement with two pedestrians nearby.

The van was driven along the pavement and onto the wrong side of the road, narrowly avoiding an oncoming car, causing it to brake to avoid a collision as other traffic was brought to a halt.

“He then drove from Rougier Street onto Station Road (while) he and his passenger were holding cans of alcohol,” said Ms Clement.

“The vehicle drove round the corner at speed and the car crashed into a kerb (and) mounted the pavement, (with) pedestrians in close proximity again. They were concerned they were going to be hit.”

Stubbs tried to drive off, but the van crashed into metal barriers on the edge of the road outside York Railway Station.

It then “slid down” the length of the crash barriers, causing scratches and dents to the front of the vehicle.

Stubbs ran off but his passenger, who was “absolutely legless”, remained at the scene. Officers arrived and the passenger told them that at one point he had tried to get Stubbs to stop.

Ms Clement said that just after the crash, the two men were seen with cans of Fosters running towards the railway station, but the passenger went back to the van to get a crate of beer.

Police traced Stubbs to his home in York and he initially gave them a false name. Police body-worn camera footage showed him slurring his words and unsteady on his feet. He was said to be reeking of alcohol and “very drunk”.

Stubbs was arrested and taken into custody where a drink-drive test, some two hours after the incident, showed that he was over twice the legal alcohol limit.

He charged with dangerous driving, drink-driving and failing to stop after an accident. He admitted failing to stop and dangerous driving at the first time of asking, but “unbelievably” denied the drink-drive offense until the day he was due to face trial.

Stubbs, of Burrill Avenue, appeared for sentence today (Wednesday, August 3) when the court was told he had a previous conviction for drink-driving from 2012.

Zareen Alam-Cheetham, mitigating, said Stubbs had personal problems at the time of the incident on November 28 last year.

She said the father-of-one, who was a working man but had “inner demons”, was nonetheless “ashamed of what he has done”.

Judge Sean Morris slammed Stubbs for putting people’s lives at risk and then running off and lying to police.

He told Stubbs: “You were seen on CCTV on a busy afternoon in York city center (when) people were walking around, crossing the road, and you were driving so paralytically drunk you couldn’t steer, and you caused the car to skid .

“That made you then manoeuvre it onto a pavement after two pedestrians had just walked by, and then you drove on the pavement on the wrong side of the road, straight into (the path) of an oncoming vehicle.

“People near the railway station saw you coming round the corner at speed and you crashed into the pavement…and then collided with a barrier. Had that barrier not been there, I’m utterly convinced you would have carried on weaving around the street, so drunk you couldn’t steer, and sooner or later there’s every possibility you would have killed somebody.”

The judge said although Stubbs was driving at “relatively low” speeds for most of his crazy joyride and had personal problems at the time, “no amount of woe” could excuse his behavior, and “people should know if they get legless and get into a car and drive in the way you did, and put people’s lives at risk”, jail was the only outcome.

Stubbs was jailed for six months and handed a three-year driving ban.

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