Drug-driver caught three times in six weeks on Northamptonshire roads after taking cocaine and cannabis

ANPR cameras used to track down 27-year-old following tip-offs to police

Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 1:31 pm

A driver who failed three drug wipes in six weeks on roads in and around Northampton has escaped jail.

Police were tipped off that 27-year-old Ben Aaron Barker was driving his VW Urban after taking cocaine and cannabis.

Officers used ANPR cameras to track the vehicle and stopped Barker for the first time on the A43 near Towcester on December 2, last year — the day after Northamptonshire’s pre-Christmas drink and drug-driving campaign kicked-off.

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Baker was arrested after failing a roadside drug wipe and he was released under investigation while a blood sample was sent for analysis.

Yet he was stopped again in Rothersthorpe Road, Northampton, on Christmas Eve and AGAIN in Harvester Way in the town on January 16, failing drug wipes both times.

That led to tests being fast-tracked to get Barker, of Waynflete Drive, Brackley, through the courts as quickly as possible.

He was charged with five counts of driving a motor vehicle while over a specified drug limit and two counts of possessing cannabis.

Barker was stopped three times over the drug-drive limit between December 2 and January 16

Barker pleaded guilty at Northampton Magistrates’ Court on March 11 and sentenced on Friday (April 28) to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for two years, disqualified from driving for 28 months, ordered to undertake unpaid work and a rehabilitation course, and fined £313.

PC James Condon from Northamptonshire Road Crime Team, said: “Ben Barker showed a complete disregard for the law.

"Being stopped multiple times in a short timeframe and being over the limit, which as we know, can have fatal consequences.

“This was some really good work to get this case fast-tracked involving the use of community intelligence, teamwork and our incredible ANPR network.”

Drug and drink-driving is one of the so-called Fatal Four offences — alongside speeding, not wearing a seatbelt and using a mobile phone — which are most commonly linked to deaths and serious injuries on roads.

ANPR cameras read passing registrations, checking them across several databases and raising alerts if a vehicle is ‘of interest’.

Northamptonshire’s ANPR network doubled in size since 2020 following a massive investment by Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Stephen Mold.

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