A DRUG driver who fled the police speeding at 130mph in a BMW before crashing into a tree has only just avoided going straight to jail.

Damien Winnett, 27, of Blaen Blodau Street, Newbridge, was handed a suspended prison sentence after the early hours of the morning smash near Pontypool.

Emma Harris, prosecuting, told Cardiff Crown Court how the defendant was then caught drug driving again less than a month later.

The first set of offences happened on March 21, 2020 when officers in a patrol car followed Winnett on the A472 between Crumlin and Pontypool.


Miss Harris said he sped away from the police who were travelling at 130mph to keep up with him before they lost him.

But Winnett was soon arrested after he crashed the BMW when he misjudged a bend and smashed into the tree.

He tested positive for benzoylecgonine and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the by-products of cocaine and cannabis respectively.

The BMW was a write-off.

Winnett was caught drug driving on April 17, this time on Crumlin Road, Pontypool, and again for benzoylecgonine and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.

This time he was at the wheel of a Mercedes C220.

He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and four counts of drug driving.

The defendant, the court was told, was jailed for three years in 2016 for perverting the course of justice.

Gareth Williams, representing machine operator Winnett, said of the dangerous driving offence: “There is no mitigation other than it was late at night and there weren’t many other road users around.

“The greatest danger the defendant posed was to himself and his passenger.”

His barrister added: “There is a good chance of rehabilitation in this case.”

Judge Daniel Williams said that “with great reluctance” he was prepared to give Winnett another chance.

He jailed him for eight months, suspended for 18 months, and ordered him to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work.

The defendant must also complete a 15-day rehabilitation activity requirement and pay £960 costs and a £149 victim surcharge.

Winnett was banned from driving for two years and has to sit an extended test.