A 'THOROUGHLY decent' man crashed his van while his partner was inside, after drinking to celebrate a new addition to the family.

Simon John Hamer, who lives near Presteigne on the Herefordshire-Powys border, was banned from driving for 18 months by magistrates in Llandrindod Wells this week and ordered to pay more than £600 in court fees.

Hamer, who was desribed in court as a "very safe driver", and his fiancée Katie had called at a pub to celebrate on July 17 after agreeing to buy a dog.

Hamer, 33, drank three to four pints and thought he was okay to drive, but crashed into a stone wall on the A481 between Builth Wells and Hundred House – his Ford Transit van was written off, costing Hamer £16,000.

Hamer, of Wimble View, Kinnerton, admitted drink driving on Wednesday, October 14.

Prosecutor Stephen Davies said the incident occurred at around 8.20pm on the night in question.

“Police were called in relation to a road traffic accident that occurred involving a black Ford van. The caller said the driver might have smelt of intoxicants.

“He had a female passenger with him and said he came round a corner, telling officers he had ‘bad luck with the van, to be fair’.”

A roadside test was positive and he gave two further samples at the station, the lower reading was 69 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit being 35mcgs.

David Leathley, acting for Hamer, described the experience of being in court as “one of the worst moments of his life”.

“He actually called the police himself to report the accident, he had his responsible girlfriend Katie in the car with him,” Mr Leathley said.

“There was debris in the road and they were concerned for the safety of other road users. These are roads down which he travels regularly. He’s on the road a minimum of four-and-a-half hours per day and he’s never had an accident before.

“He has an unblemished driving record, nothing like this has blighted it. He is a very safe driver. He acted out of character.

“He had been with his fiancée to a farm to buy a dog as a family pet and they had cause to celebrate. They called into a pub and had a few drinks over two hours. He thought he was safe to drive but he was considerably over. He is not someone who would habitually drink and drive. He misjudged the amount he’d consumed.”

Mr Leathley described how Hamer’s job was at risk but admitted his employers would look to keep him on.

Mr Leathley added: “He’s now a supervisor overseeing a team of 40 technicians. The loss of his licence will hobble his usefulness to the company and while they will review his position he won’t be sacked.

“Katie, his partner, is now 17 weeks pregnant with their first child and he is worried about how he is going to care for her.

“This is a personal tragedy for him and he’s even brought a bag with him to court today as he thinks he is going to be incarcerated. He is a thoroughly decent young man who is going through one of the worst moments of his life right now.”

Banned for 18 months, Hamer will have the chance to reduce this by 18 weeks if he completes a drink drive awareness course.

He was also fined £500 fine and must pay £85 costs and a £50 surcharge.