A DRUNKEN HGV driver who demolished a bus stop forcing a woman to run for her life was already being investigated for another incidence of drink driving.

Blackburn magistrates heard that because Andrew George Grove had claimed he had been drinking vodka from a bottle after he had stopped driving the police had to instruct an expert to do a back calculation of his alcohol levels after the first incident.

The delay meant he had already been dealt with for the second offence, receiving a suspended prison sentence, before he came to court for the first.

It also meant that because he left the haulage company he was working for at the time of his first arrest, his new employers were not aware of the ongoing police action.

Grove, 59, of Rockliffe Avenue, Bacup, again pleaded guilty to driving his articulated lorry with excess alcohol.

He was given a 26-week prison sentence suspended for 18 months, was banned from driving for three years and ordered to pay £165 costs.

Philip Hall, prosecuting, said that the offence in Rishton, when Grove demolished a bus stop as he tried to perform a U-turn, was committed on March 17.

Two weeks earlier, he had returned to the McMurray’s Haulage depot, in Bridge Street, Accrington, and a member of staff had contacted police because he believed the driver was drunk.

Grove gave a reading of 87 but claimed he had been drinking after parking his lorry.

The case was delayed while an expert did a back calculation.

The defendant then left the company and started working for another when he crashed into the bus stop.

Grove was taken to court and pleaded guilty to driving his lorry with a reading of 122 against the legal limit of 35.

He was made subject to a suspended prison sentence and community supervision. Speaking after the hearing, Darwen solicitor Michael Connor, said it was normal for somebody suspected of drink driving to keep their licence before they were convicted.

Simon Farnsworth, defending, told the court Grove had been driving HGVs all over the country for a number of years without any difficulties.

On the day of the first incident he was about an hour away from base when he got a call from his boss saying he was going to be laid off.

“He stopped on the way back and got a bottle of vodka which he was drinking from while waiting for his wife to pick him up,” said Mr Farnsworth.

“By his plea today he accepts that was not the only alcohol he had drunk.”

Mr Farnsworth said over the last 10 years Grove had been suffering from vascular disease and had taken to alcohol for a numbing effect.

“He realises that driving any vehicle with excess alcohol can have consequences but to drive a vehicle of that size on public roads can only be described as stupid,” said Mr Farnsworth.