Page last updated at 12:15 GMT, Friday, 25 September 2009 13:15 UK

Rolls-Royce shop crash man jailed


CCTV of the Rolls Royce driving into the Tesco store

A drunk driver who drove his Rolls-Royce into a Tesco supermarket in Hampshire has been jailed for 16 months and banned from driving for five years.

Robert Caton, 50, of Cusden Drive, Andover, who admitted dangerous driving, had a grudge against the store over the failed delivery of a bed.

Six people were injured in the incident on 20 May and it cost more than £20,000 to repair the damage caused.

Sentencing him, the judge called Caton's actions an "appalling act".

If every citizen of this country who felt aggrieved against a shop or a bank acted like you there would be complete mayhem
Judge Keith Cutler

Winchester Crown Court heard on Friday how Caton had drunk two bottles of whisky before his 1983 Rolls-Royce ploughed into the supermarket.

Judge Keith Cutler said it was "an appalling act of driving with horrific and frightening consequences".

"If every citizen of this country who felt aggrieved against a shop or a bank acted like you there would be complete mayhem," he said.

"Frustration is no defence or mitigation."

'I broke'

The court heard the six women who were injured suffered cuts, bruising and shock and one, who was 20 weeks' pregnant and had already suffered two miscarriages, needed to go to hospital.

Caton had asked a security guard how long it would take to evacuate the building shortly before he made two attempts to crash into the store as terrified shoppers fled, causing damage which cost more than £21,000 to repair, the court heard.

The Rolls Royce crashed into the shop
Six women suffered cuts and bruising when the window shattered

His defence barrister, Peter Asteris, told the hearing Caton did not intend to injure anyone, which was why he spoke to the security guard.

Mr Asteris said he and his wife had money problems and a large bill had arrived on the day of the incident, adding to the stress and anger over a bed and cupboard for his three-year-old son which were not delivered.

The court heard a Tesco staff member pulled Caton from the car when it finally went through the window.

The whole incident, captured on CCTV, was shown to the court.

"This was a man on the very edge of his own mental well-being," added Mr Asteris.

He then read out a letter to the court from Caton, which said: "I would like to say anybody breaks if the stress is enough. I broke."

At an earlier hearing, Caton also pleaded guilty to failing to provide a specimen.

But he pleaded not guilty to a charge of criminal damage while being reckless as to whether life was being endangered, which the prosecution accepted.

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