A MUM-OF-NINE from Blackburn who crashed a stolen car while drunk has been spared jail.

Preston Crown Court heard the BMW belonged to a pensioner. The keys had been stolen during a home robbery when he was hit over the head with a knife and knocked unconscious.

Prosecuting, Rachel Woods said Sinead Heaton, 40, was not charged in relation to that offence but with aggravated vehicle taking after she was found in the driver’s seat of the car hours after the robbery.

The court heard that when Heaton got out of the car she dropped the key to the pensioner's mobility vehicle, which had also been stolen from the victim’s Preston home on July 28. As she got out of the car Heaton told police: “I don’t even know how to drive.”

Heaton, of France Court, Blackburn, was breathalysed and found to be nearly three times the drink-drive limit. Following the incident police decided to re-visit a conditional caution she had been given for affray on July 3.

Ms Woods said that offence related to an incident in Blackburn where Jason Whittle was initially assaulted by a man who Heaton was with after he refused to give the man a cigarette. Ms Woods said after the assault in King Street, the attacker, still to be identified by police, ran off. But Mr Whittle followed Heaton.

An argument ensued during which the prosecutor said Heaton hit Mr Whittle. That then sparked a melee involving a number of people.

Heaton was arrested and during police interview said she had been drinking vodka throughout the previous day and had no recollection of the incident. She pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking, affray, and driving while uninsured and without a licence. She was given a 20-month custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to complete a 40 day rehabilitation activity requirement.

Defending, Philip Holden said: “It is an unpleasant incident on the street at night, probably fuelled by alcohol but what you do see in the first piece of (CCTV) footage is the complainant following the defendant, raising his fists towards her and her backing away.

“She is clearly scared of the male complainant. She moves back to where her friends are on the street of the Salvation Army. He follows her. Yes, she strikes the blow but it’s against that context.”

Judge Philip Parry said: “You looked quite properly suitably ashamed when you saw yourself on the footage. When you are sober, as you are now, it looks awful. You should be ashamed of your behaviour on that evening.”