'Octopus-swerving' Devon driver banned for 20 months

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

A man who said he swerved across the road "to avoid an octopus" has been banned from driving for 20 months.

Robert Shapley, 49, had taken a cocktail of drugs, and later said he had no recollection of driving before crashing near South Milton in Devon.

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

Shapley, of Courtenay Street, Salcombe pleaded guilty to driving while unfit through drugs.

"It got a bit bumpy for a while," he told officers after the crash.

"I swerved to avoid an octopus... it is pretty bad out there having to dodge all that whitebait," he added, before pretending to read an imaginary book about hedgehogs.

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

Image copyright TheSP4N1SH
Image caption Robert Shapley claimed he had to dodge an octopus on the A381

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

His Suzuki Swift was found on its roof in a ditch on the A381 between Malborough and South Milton at about 17:15 GMT by members of the public who called the police.

Brian Dewdney, chairman of the bench at Newton Abbot Magistrates, told Shapley it was fortunate he had not hurt himself or other people.

The court heard Shapley, a kitchen porter with no previous convictions, had been using heroin for 18 years.

He was also given a 12-month community order.

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