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Drunk driver guilty of destroying park trees, breaching suspended sentence

Drunk driver guilty of destroying park trees, breaching suspended sentence

Tuesday 04 September 2018

Drunk driver guilty of destroying park trees, breaching suspended sentence

Tuesday 04 September 2018

A man who had previously narrowly avoided jail when he was sentenced for drunk driving a stolen vehicle, which he subsequently crashed, has returned to court just weeks later on a criminal damage charge.

Grant Harvey, 20, pleaded guilty in Magistrate's Court to damaging four saplings and the Bowls lawn at Delancey Park. He was previously sentenced on 12 July to a suspended five months youth detention, suspended for two years and so this offence was in breach of the existing sentence.

The court heard that on 1 August Harvey had been at Delancey Park in St Sampsons and had recklessly caused damage to four sapling trees and the Bowls Pavilion Lawn without any lawful excuse.

Express previously reported about the vandalism on the trees as the Police had appealed for witnesses to the "mindless vandalism".

Delancey Park trees vandalism

Pictured: One of the damaged saplings at Delancey Park.

Harvey plead guilty to the charge as read out and was hoping that the incident would be dealt with by the court sitting on Monday, however Judge Graeme McKerrell -who had previously sentenced Harvey in July - was not prepared to.

He told Harvey that he was instead going to ask for a further probation report or an addendum to add to the one prepared in July. He added that Harvey was subject to a suspended sentence at this time and had a long list of previous convictions.

563681.jpeg Pictured: The scene at Les Merriennes shortly after the crash in May.

Express previously reported that on Sunday 6 May, 2018, Harvey, stole an AFM business car from Pedvin Street, St Peter Port, while he was under the influence of alcohol and drove it without insurance or a driving licence, before crashing the vehicle at Les Merriennes, St Martins, striking scaffolding which was supporting a house opposite the M&S food hall.

Emergency services were called out just after 05:00, where they found the blue Hyundai which had crashed into the boundary wall of Merriennes Cottage and the scaffolding erected outside of it..

When the matter eventually came to court in July he was sentenced to five months youth detention, suspended for two years, and banned from holding a driving licence – which he currently doesn’t have – for 12 months.

During sentencing, Judge Graeme McKerrell said Harvey had “sailed exceptionally close to the wind” to receiving a custodial term, Judge McKerrell told him, as he handed down the lesser punishment. “I had come to work this morning intending to send you to jail immediately. It was a very, very close thing.”

It was revealed during summing up that an innocent third party – an AFM employee who was responsible for the car – had been arrested the morning after the crash and was taken to the police station for questioning. Although it was not stated how long they had remained under arrest, the judge said, “one second is too long” for an innocent person to undergo the “rigmarole and upset” of being arrested.

The court was told that Harvey had consumed four cans of Strongbow cider at a friends before walking home. On the way, he noticed a light in the AFM car, approached it, saw the keys were in it, entered, put on latex gloves to try and cover his fingerprints, before beginning to drive the car – which he did successfully until crashing it into scaffolding at Les Merriennes, St Martins.

Fleeing the scene, Harvey jumped over garden fences before getting to his partners house, where he remained. Despite seeing requests for information about the crash on the Guernsey Police Facebook page, he did not come forward. A swab of the airbag – which had deployed because of force of the crash – led police to him. After this, the court was told, Harvey admitted everything. He had no licence, no insurance and his only experience of driving was “three laps round the [Victoria Avenue] track.”

Harvey’s initial plan was simply to abandon the vehicle after a while, and at one point he considered setting fire to the car in a remote location, although he had no means to do this. The probation report had a “strong theme” of his associating with anti-social peers, but the judge noted in this instance he had acted alone with no pressure from anyone.

It was only because of the speculative swab test that Harvey was arrested and convicted, the judge said, and had it not been for this, he might never have faced justice. 

This latest incident involving criminal damage has taken place whilst Harvey is subject to the suspended sentence order given for the driving offence and the matter will now return to court in October, where the judge reminded Harvey that all sentencing options were available.


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