A holidaymaker is facing jail after he was found guilty of deliberately driving at a tent which had a woman and three children inside at a Cornish campsite.
Andrew Layfield had drunk at least four lagers and two rum and cokes before he got into his car, revved up the engine and steered it straight at the dome tent in the middle of the night.
He was angry after an argument with his partner and drove off before returning to the tent, where three children were also staying. He left again but came back and stopped before accelerating into the tent.
Tourists in a neighbouring tent at the side at Widemouth Bay, near Bude, saw him get out and climb onto the remains of the tent before ripping it apart in a rage.
Layfield set off for his home in Somerset before police arrived but was stopped in East Devon, where he failed a breath test two hours later. His reading was so close to the limit that he was not prosecuted.
The four people inside the tent had been in a central pod which did not take the full impact of the crash and all escaped unhurt. Police found tyre marks heading straight at the tent and over one side of it.
He had been celebrating his birthday at the site’s Club Room with his partner but they argued after returning to the tent around midnight. She made a 999 call at 1.16 am in which she said “He is driving right at my tent.”
Layfield, aged 53, of South Quarry Piece Road, South Petherton, near Yeovil, denied dangerous driving but was found guilty by a jury at Exeter Crown Court.
Judge David Evans adjourned sentence for six weeks and ordered a probation pre-sentence report. He released Layfield on bail but imposed an interim driving disqualification and a condition not to contact his ex-partner or go to her home in Chard,
He told him that immediate custody is an option. He said: “You have been convicted on the plainest possible evidence of the offence of dangerous driving. It was a particularly serious example of it and you will need to be sentenced in due course.
“All options, including immediate custody, are available. The adjournment is not intended to give you any false promise about sentence. This is a very serious offence.”
During the trial, Miss Victoria Bastock, prosecuting, said Layfield and his partner were staying in a tent in the Finch section of John Fowler site at Widemouth Bay on July 25 last year when they went out to celebrate his birthday at the Club Room at the other side of the site.
The roads around the campsite were narrow, gravelled and there was a one way system and 5 mph speed limit and Layfield’s Vauxhall Insignia was parked near his tent.
Miss Bastock said camper Dominic Chadwick was staying in a tent close by and heard an argument between a man and a woman. She said: “Mr Chadwick looked out of his tent and saw Layfield get into his car and drive off, apparently faster than the 5 mph limit.
“Things went quiet and after a few minutes he saw the vehicle pull up in front of the tent, get out, and argue with his partner again.. He then saw Layfield get back in the car and drive directly at a windbreak outside the tent and across part of the tent itself.”
Mr Chadwick heard things breaking inside the tent and woke a friend in his own tent, who called the police. They saw Layfield get out and pull the tent apart with his hands and get back into the car.
Layfield told police he had not aimed at the tent but had hit the windbreak in front of it by accident as he drove off in the dark. He chose not to give evidence at his trial.