POLICE responding to a report of a possible drink-driver found a damaged car in an alley and a drunken man lying comatose nearby.

Blackburn magistrate heard Paul James Dixon had his pants around his ankles and was unable to pull them up without falling.

He was arrested on suspicion of drink-driving but when he was taken to the police station refused to provide a sample of breath.

Dixon, 29, of Earnsdale Road, Darwen, pleaded guilty to failing to provide a specimen for analysis. He was fined £615 with £85 costs and £61 victim surcharge and banned from driving for 29 months.

Tracy Yates, prosecuting, said when police found Dixon he was clearly intoxicated and there was a white powder around his nostrils. There was a damaged Astra in a back alley, which had been reported to the police and a parked Nissan Juke which had also been damaged. Gareth Price, defending, said nobody knew who had been driving the car.

“My client was not right next to the car and the original report suggested there were two men in the vehicle,” said Mr Price.

“It has been a difficult call but we have accepted the officer was entitled to suspect he had been driving and request a sample.

“The proper process would have been for him to provide a sample and then the police could have investigated whether he was the driver or not. The moment he refused they no longer had to do that.”

Mr Price said his client was not the registered keeper of the car, was not insured to drive it and was not in possession of the keys.

“He thinks he went to the back alley to relieve himself and sometime later he was roused by the officer who accused him of drink-driving,” said Mr Price.

The chairman of the magistrates said they were departing from their sentencing guidelines because there was no evidence to link Dixon to the vehicle.