Drink driver deliberately ran his van into man after arguing about social distancing in pub

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Philip Forrest fled the scene afterwards and was found at the bar of another pub

A drink driver who ran over a man in his van after arguing with him about social distancing in a pub has been jailed for more than 10 years.

And when arrested he made the outrageous claim that being almost twice the limit was “no big deal” and even boasted to police of once being four times the limit.

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Philip Forrest, 42, had been drinking at The Three Fishes pub in Worthing, West Sussex, on 10 October, 2020, before the attack began.

Forrest argued with man about social distancing

He had to be reminded to follow coronavirus rules by staff during the evening and later that night he had a row with his victim, who had become concerned about his lack of respect for social distancing.

As they argued outside on the street Forrest punched the 55-year-old victim in the face before fleeing the scene on foot.

He then got into his white Vauxhall Combo van and struck his victim, who fell to the floor and was left with serious injuries including a broken arm.

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He failed to stop but witnesses said that he had talked earlier about going to another pub - the Golden Lion in nearby Durrington - where he was found drinking at the bar with his van parked outside.

Police arrested him soon after on suspicion of drink driving, dangerous driving and inflicting grievous bodily harm.

He was found with 69 micrograms of alcohol in his breath. The legal limit is 35mg.

Forrest, a carpenter from Worthing, was jailed for 10 years and nine months after admitting all three offences at Lewes Crown Court on 6 May.

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He must serve at least two thirds of the sentence in prison and was also banned from the road for 10 years and seven months.

‘These were the actions of a mindless and dangerous criminal’

Investigating officer Lucy Hailes, of Sussex Police, said on Friday: “The victim in this case had stuck up for another group who took offence to Forrest’s lack of respect for social distancing restrictions in the pub.

“Shortly afterwards, he was assaulted outside the pub and then deliberately run over by him, causing serious injuries.

“These were the actions of a mindless and dangerous criminal who also consciously got behind the wheel of his vehicle knowing he was well over the legal drink-drive limit.

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“In police interview, Forrest claimed he punched the victim in self-defence and suggested the man stepped out in front of his vehicle, causing the collision.

“His account was not supported by either of the witnesses or CCTV footage.

“He also stated he had consumed several drinks at the Golden Lion before his arrest, suggesting he had not driven while over the limit. But again, his account was not supported by staff who served him.

“Forrest took no responsibility for his actions and has expressed no remorse throughout.

“He was even dismissive of the risks of drink-driving, claiming that blowing 69mcg was ‘no big deal’ and adding that he had blown 140mcg on a previous occasion.”