See CCTV footage of moment driver deliberately crashes into Darlington theatre at high speed

A man has been jailed after deliberately driving a car into a theatre during rush hour.

Richard Kelly drove the Ford Puma into Darlington Hippodrome at 3.40pm on Thursday, March 7. The 47-year-old drove at high speed down Park Place, straight through a T-junction before crashing through the metal barriers outside the theatre and into the front of the building.

The incident was captured on CCTV and showed his car narrowly missing other vehicles and pedestrians as it careered across Parkgate. Many onlookers rushed to the scene to help while emergency services were called.

Kelly, who had not been wearing a seatbelt and smelled strongly of alcohol, was helped out of the car and taken to hospital suffering from broken ribs. Nobody else was in the vehicle at the time.

He was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and later charged with the offence. Kelly, of Bourne Court, Darlington, admitted the charge, claiming he deliberately drove at the building after pressing the accelerator instead of the brake.

Richard Kelly has been jailed for 12 months
Richard Kelly has been jailed for 12 months -Credit:handout

Appearing at Teesside Crown Court on May 1 Kelly was sentenced to 12 months in prison. He was also banned from driving for 16 months.

Detective Inspector David Bailey, of Durham Constabulary, said: “Kelly’s behaviour that day was utterly reckless – he drove at excessive speeds and straight across a busy junction without any thought for other road users or pedestrians. It is only by sheer luck that nobody else was injured as a result of his actions.

“If he had chosen to commit this offence only moments before, several people would have been seriously injured or even killed as a result of his actions. I am pleased he has admitted his guilt and can reflect on the consequences of his careless behaviour while he is behind bars.”