A drink-driver who crashed his BMW into a garden lied to police and claimed his car had been stolen.
Ian Docherty was almost three times the drink-drive limit when he ploughed his car into the gardens on Obsdale Road in Alness.
A witness heard him say: “I will say it was stolen” as he walked away from the scene.
When officers eventually caught up with him he did just that, claiming the vehicle had been taken from a party.
He said he was only nearby as he had been pursuing the thief.
Docherty, 42, appeared for sentencing at Tain Sheriff Court having eventually admitted drink-driving, failing to report an accident and attempting to pervert the course of justice on the day his trial was due to start.
Fiscal depute Hilary Michopoulou told the court that the incident occurred shortly after midnight on June 4 last year.
She said that that a witness had been woken by the sound of a man speaking outside her window.
She looked out and saw Docherty walking away from the crash and saying: “I will say it was stolen.”
Garden crash caused airbags to deploy
The court heard that Docherty’s 54 plate BMW had crashed into two gardens on the street with such force that the airbags were deployed, but when police arrived the car was locked and the keys nowhere in sight.
Officers caught up with Docherty walking away from the scene and confirmed him to be the car’s registered keeper.
But when asked who was driving he told them: “It wasn’t me.”
“The accused stated his vehicle was stolen from a party he had been at and that he was pursuing the person responsible,” Mrs Michopoulou told the court.
She added that Docherty was “unsteady on his feet and smelled of alcohol.”
The court heard that the keys to the car were recovered from behind a fence near where Docherty was stopped.
Docherty was taken to Raigmore Hospital where he admitted while under caution that he was intoxicated.
A test revealed his alcohol level to be 63 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit being 22.
Drinking was ‘a real problem’ for driver
Solicitor Graham Mann, for Docherty, told the court that drinking had become “a real problem” for his client at that time of the incident and that there were “real concerns over his mental health”.
He told the court: “It is the first time he has been involved in something like this.”
Sheriff Robert McDonald told Docherty that his previous record of road traffic offences coupled with the attempt to pervert the course of justice had put him at risk of a custodial sentence.
However, he instead placed Docherty on a community payback order with 12 months supervision plus requirements to take part in the Smart programme to help address his offending and complete 135 hours of unpaid work.
Docherty, of Firhill, Alness, was also disqualified from driving for 18 months.