Man jailed for deliberately driving car into Darlington theatre

CCTV footage captured the moment Richard Kelly crashed into Darlington Hippodrome Credit: Durham Constabulary

A man has been jailed after deliberately driving his car into a theatre at high speed.

Richard Kelly crashed the Ford Puma into Darlington Hippodrome at around 3.40pm on Thursday 7 March.

The 47-year-old drove down Park Place and straight through a junction before smashing through the metal barriers outside the theatre and into the front of the building.

The incident was captured on CCTV and showed his car narrowly missing other vehicles and pedestrians as it careered across Parkgate.

Kelly had not been wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash and had to be helped out of the car by emergency services. He suffered broken ribs and was taken to hospital.

He smelled strongly of alcohol after the incident and was later arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and charged with the offence.

Kelly was sentenced to 12 months in prison and received a driving ban. Credit: Durham Constabulary

Kelly, of Bourne Court, Darlington, admitted the charge, claiming he deliberately drove at the building after pressing the accelerator instead of the brake.

Appearing at Teesside Crown Court on Wednesday 1 May, Kelly was sentenced to 12 months in prison and was banned from driving for 16 months.

Detective Inspector David Bailey, of Durham Constabulary, said: “Kelly’s behaviour that day was utterly reckless – he drove at excessive speeds and straight across a busy junction without any thought for other road users or pedestrians.

“It is only by sheer luck that nobody else was injured as a result of his actions.

“If he had chosen to commit this offence only moments before, several people would have been seriously injured or even killed as a result of his actions.

“I am pleased he has admitted his guilt and can reflect on the consequences of his careless behaviour while he is behind bars.”

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