Motorist blames "sleep driving" for car smash

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DAMIEN MCMANUS from Birkenhead who says he was

A motorist who was caught by police crawling along the road at 10mph, jumping a red light and eventually crashing into the barriers has blamed a "cocktail" of prescription drugs for his blacking out behind the wheel.

Damien McManus, 53, from New Chester Road in Birkenhead, pleaded guilty to driving without insurance but claimed that a "cocktail" of prescription drugs, including the pill Zolpidem to help him sleep, had caused him to conk out behind the wheel.

Police on patrol spotted McManus in his dark blue Vauxhall Astra jumping a red light and despite following the vehicle and sounding the sirens, McManus failed to stop.

According to police officers, the Astra was "crawling" along the road at about 10mph, swerving across lanes into oncoming traffic before eventually crashing into railings near a petrol station.

The Liverpool Echo reported that Chris Murphy, defending, told the court that a forensic report concluded that the drug Zolpidem could lead to "an extremely rare side effect of somnambulism, which can include sleep walking or sleep driving".

The court also heard that the car he had been driving was under the Motability scheme and that his son and brother were the only drivers insured to drive it.

McManus told the court that on the night of the crash he had watched television and taken his 11 different tablets for various illnesses, including possibly two of the sleeping pills, at around 10pm and had no recollection of anything until he woke in a hospital bed.

The prosecution refused to accept his case and concluded that the defendant was "not complying with his prescription" that specifically informed the user to take one pill "sparingly".

As a result, McManus was handed a six-month driving ban and banned for a further six-months for driving with no insurance in a separate incident.

He was also ordered to pay £315 in fines and court costs for both offences.