A disqualified driver who was found back behind the wheel with a cocktail of drugs in his system – and a 7-year-old child sat beside him – has been handed a suspended prison sentence.
35-year-old Joseph Hughes, of Clarence Road in Newport, appeared before Magistrates this morning (Friday) charged with driving whilst unfit through drugs, driving whilst disqualified and driving without insurance.
The court heard from crown prosecutor, Liz Miller, that Hughes had been sighted in Newport High Street by Police at around 17:00 on 16th July last year – the start of the busy evening rush hour. He was subsequently stopped on nearby Fairlee Road, although Magistrates heard that he failed to stop straight away.
Hughes was confronted by officers who described him in their report as being unsteady on his feet, drowsy and disoriented. He was arrested on the spot.
Ms Miller detailed to the court the cocktail of drugs that were later detected in Joseph’s system, which included cocaine, morphine, ketamine, methadone, codeine and many others. Shockingly, the court also heard that Hughes had a female – his girlfriend – and a young child in the passenger seat of the Ford Transit van he was driving.
Hughes previously appeared in court in October 2020 when he was handed a 26-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and a 12-month ban for aggravated vehicle taking and injury caused by accident, driving whilst disqualified and driving without insurance. It followed a serious crash on the outskirts of Godshill in April of that year which saw a Seat Ibiza burst into flames.
The 35-year-old had his suspended sentence activated last year and served time behind bars, but has since been released on licence.
Hughes was initially banned from driving in February 2020 – just 2 months before the terrifying crash at Sandford.
Defending, Oscar Vincent said that his client is in a completely different situation now compared to July, when he was homeless, on drugs and depressed. At the time he was in a downward spiral emotionally following a relationship breakdown and not being able to see his children.
Mr Vincent said that Hughes is now in a positive relationship with a social worker and has full time work as a builder. He is also said to be seeking to purchase a house. Furthermore, the 35-year-old is said to be drug-free and on a reducing methadone script with support from Inclusion.
In their sentencing, Magistrates said that without a doubt the ‘very serious’ case had crossed the custody threshold, with the very high level of drugs, repeat offending and presence of a child passenger being aggravating factors.
Magistrates sentenced Joseph Hughes to 18 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months. They also ordered him to pay £85 costs, a £128 surcharge and warned that if he was to appear back before the court his suspended sentence would be activated.
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