A “COMMITTED soldier” who crashed into a garden wall while almost three times over the drink drive limit has been banned from driving for 36-months.

Jonathan Robson, 24, had 104mg of alcohol in his breath when he drove into a wall on Fenby Avenue in Darlington at around 2pm on November 18.

He pleaded guilty to drink driving at Darlington Magistrates’ Court yesterday (November 27).

The court heard that Robson, a corporal in the Third Rifles, had returned from his third tour of Afghanistan several weeks earlier and had learned that his best friend in Darlington had committed suicide while he was away.

Robert Mochrie, mitigating, said the day before he crashed into the wall, Robson had gone to his deceased friend’s house to have a drink with his brother.

Mr Mochrie said: “He drank excessive amounts of alcohol throughout the night and into the early hours.

“He says he stopped drinking about 6am, he was at it all night.

“He did get some sleep and deliberately waited until after lunch to get his car.”

Mr Mochrie said that Robson, who has been in the Army for seven years and completed three tours of Afghanistan, had also witnessed the death of his friends on tour at the hands of Afghan policemen carrying out suicide attacks.

He said that Robson, of Aldbrough Walk, Darlington, was due to take a post at Catterick Garrison in January training young soldiers.

Mo Sibert, of the probation service, described Robson as ‘a committed soldier’ and urged magistrates not to impose a community sentence which would lose him his post at Catterick.

Magistrates fined him £620, plus a £62 victim surcharge and banned him from driving for three years, with the option to reduce the ban by nine months upon completion of a drivers’ rehabilitation course.