Devon driver who 'swerved to avoid octopus' had taken drugs

Robert Shapley
Image caption Robert Shapley also pretended to read an imaginary book about hedgehogs

A driver who said he "swerved to avoid an octopus" before crashing his car had taken a cocktail of drugs, a court has heard.

Robert Shapley, 49, later said he had no recollection of driving before the crash near South Milton in Devon.

He pleaded guilty to driving while unfit through drugs at Newton Abbot Magistrates' Court.

Police who attended on 5 February said he was incoherent and mumbled to them about sea creatures.

Shapley, of Courtenay Street, Salcombe, told officers "it got a bit bumpy for a while. I swerved to avoid an octopus" and "it is pretty bad out there having to dodge all that whitebait".

Officers said they found no evidence of an octopus on the road.


Philip Sewell, prosecuting, said the crash happened at a junction after Shapley's car overtook another.

His car ended up on its roof in a ditch on the A381 between Malborough and South Milton.

"He was stumbling around, he wasn't coherent," Mr Sewell said.

Police were called at about 17:15 GMT, and put him in one of their cars before he was checked over by paramedics.

"He continued to talk to the officers, he was talking about squid, octopus and other sea creatures," Mr Sewell said, adding that he later pretended to be reading an imaginary book about hedgehogs.

The drugs in Shapley's system included morphine, codeine, cannabis, and a by-product of heroin.

Simon Colman, defending, said Shapley suffered from depression and anxiety and took prescription drugs and heroin, but did not remember taking anything prior to driving.

Magistrates said they took a "very dim view" of his driving and adjourned the case for a report to be prepared about whether he was suitable for a drug rehabilitation requirement.

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