Police took six years to arrest drink-driver

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A drunken motorist who caused a head-on collision has escaped an immediate jail sentence after police took nearly six years to arrest him.

Judge James Sampson said “police incompetence” was a factor in the delay in bringing to justice Renatas Bartisius and suspended his sentence instead of sending him straight to prison.

Bartisius had been drinking at a friend’s house in Spalding when he got behind the wheel of his car in May 2007.

Gregor Purcell, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court that Bartisius began veering onto the wrong side of the A151 at Weston.

As Bartisius approached a staggered junction at a right hand bend he began to overtook the car in front of him.

He accelerated to 70mph and went the wrong side of keep left bollards directly into the path of oncoming traffic and collided head-on with an oncoming car.

Mr Purcell said “The oncoming car was knocked to the side of the road and spun. The defendant’s vehicle spun into the centre of the road.”

Both men were trapped in their vehicles. Bartisius was lapsing in and out of consciousness and was overheard to be saying “big trouble”. He became aggressive and agitated when ambulance staff tried to remove him from his car.

The other driver was off work for six months. His injuries included a fractured vertebrae and damage to a previous knee replacement.

Police only took the decision to charge Bartisius seven months after the accident. They were then unable to find him but did not make what the court was told were “obvious checks” with the Inland Revenue and Department of Work & Pensions.

His name was circulated as wanted but this was cancelled only to be later reinstated when the officer investigating the driving matter discovered what had happened.

Bartisius, who had been living and working in the UK, was eventually arrested in August after returning from a holiday.

Bartisius (43), of Willowherb Close, March, admitted dangerous driving on May 13, 2007. He was given an eight-month jail sentence suspended for 12 months with a £1,000 fine and £670 prosecution costs. He was also banned from driving for two years.

Neil Sands, defending, said that since the incident Bartisius had committed no further offences.

Judge Sampson told Mr Sands: “There is here a degree of police incompetence mixed in perhaps with a measure of evasion by your client.”

Addressing Bartisius the judge added: “Undoubtedly you were drunk and not in a fit state to drive. You drove directly into your victim who was doing absolutely nothing wrong.”