Outwell man in drink-driving crash was ‘ready to end own life’

The crest above the entrance to King's Lynn Court in College Lane.
The crest above the entrance to King's Lynn Court in College Lane.

A 46-year-old man from Outwell who crashed while under the influence of alcohol last month was “ready to end his life”, a court has heard.

Robert Briffitt, of Isle Road, admitted crashing his car into some trees off of St John’s Way in Downham on Friday, March 31 where he was found to be more than twice the legal limit when officers attended the scene.

On Monday, Lynn’s Magistrates’ Court heard that a witness had called the police after seeing a man get out of the driver’s seat of the crashed vehicle who looked “intoxicated”.

During a roadside breath test, Briffitt was found to have 98 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit is 35 micrograms.

Jane Foster, prosecuting, said when interviewed he confirmed that he had been the driver and told officers he had physical and mental health problems.

Tiffany Meredith, mitigating, said: “What it doesn’t say in the summary is that after he was stopped, he told the officers that he was actually driving to end his own life.”

Miss Meredith said there had been a wealth of circumstances which had led to the incident.

“He had been very stressed with work and had been told that the senior positions within his company were at risk.

“He suffered a heart attack at Christmas and his daughter had suffered a stroke in the past as well.”

She said on the day of the incident, he had left work at midday as he was having chest pains, and was struggling with thoughts of ending his life.

The defendant had visited a pub in Downham where he had some drinks.

“When he left the pub, he was ready to end his life. He remembers seeing a clear road and accelerated towards the trees in front of him.

“Thankfully he got out of the car and thankfully no one else was involved. It was calculated – he wanted to ensure nobody else was harmed in the course of what he wanted to do.”

Miss Meredith said Briffitt was in the armed forces in the 80s and 90s, and there were signs he was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“He is now getting help from the Walking Wounded and has been referred to a mental health practitioner.”

Briffitt was fined £400, and ordered to pay a £40 victim surcharge and costs of £85.

Magistrates banned him from driving for 26 months, but will be offered a course to reduce it by 26 weeks.