A DRUNK former soldier who crashed a van into the front of the house of his ex-girlfriend’s new partner has avoided jail.

Stewart Bates was told he was lucky nobody was killed after the smash in Chantry Close, Clacton.

The crash caused some £38,000 worth of damage to the property, wrecking the downstairs bathroom.

Five people and the family dogs were in the house at the time.

Police discovered a can of Stella Artois in the van which belonged to the company where Bates’ worked as a groundworker.

He should not have been driving the company vehicle in any event as he was on furlough leave at the time of the crash in June.

A roadside test showed he was more than double the alcohol limit, however a confirmatory test was not taken quickly enough for him to be charged with drink driving.

Bates, of Wash Lane, Clacton, admitted criminal damage being reckless as to whether life was endangered relating to the house and criminal damage for the van.

Since the crash, the 38-year-old has been diagnosed with bipolar and borderline personality disorder.


Shade Abiodun, mitigating at Chelmsford Crown Court, said: “This was completely out of character.

“It has been a traumatic experience for him.

“He is still quite shocked every time he thinks about it.”

Judge Jonathan Seely said Bates had come within a whisker of a jail term but decided to suspend his two year jail sentence for two years so he could receive a mental health treatment programme and attend rehabilitation sessions.

“It appears to me you did this in a pique of jealousy,” he said.

“If anyone had been in that toilet they probably would have been very seriously injured or lost their lives.

“It was extraordinary and selfish behaviour which is aggravated because you were intoxicated.”

Bates must also complete 250 hours of unpaid work within the next two years

He has been banned from driving for a year.

Bates must pay £1,500 compensation to cover the cost of the victim’s insurance excess, £500 costs and a £156 victim surcharge.