A TIPPER van driver was found with cannabis in his system after he smashed into a woman's car.

Paul Clarke failed to spot a queue of parked cars as he travelled along Thorrington Road, Great Bentley, in April.

He swerved to right and crashed into a Hyundai which was stopped at the junction of Great Bentley Road.

Police attended the crash and found Clarke had an illegal level of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol in his system - a cannabis derivative.

Clarke, 29, had smoked the drug some 12 hours before in order to help him sleep.

The woman in the Hyundai suffered several injuries including whiplash, pain in her hip and needed physio for shoulder and neck ailments.

In a victim impact statement given to police, she said: "On the way home from the crash I had a panic attack.

"I have trouble sleeping and noises bring on flashbacks.

"I had to take several weeks off work and eventually find myself a new job role."

Clarke, who has a previous conviction for drink driving, admitted drug driving at Colchester Magistrates' Court.

Roger Neild, mitigating, said: "The cannabis did not make him feel impaired.

"It was a momentary distraction.

"The van is used for a waste removal business he started with his father.

"He now knows he will have to either employ a driver or go back to his previous career as a roofer."

Clarke, of Keogh Road, East London, said the experience had taught him a lesson about how long drugs can stay in the system.

Magistrates banned him from driving for 36 months.

They also handed him a community order lasting a year which includes 80 hours of unpaid work.

Clarke must also pay £260 compensation to the other driver, £105 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.