A SOUTH Petherton lorry driver who drove at a tent with a family inside at a campsite has received a suspended jail sentence.

Andrew Layfield drove around the Widemouth Bay site, Bude, after a late-night row with his partner before returning to the pitch, revving his engine and steering straight at the tent.

Campers sleeping in neighbouring tents were woken and saw Layfield wrecking the remains of the tent.

The partner and three children were unharmed because they had moved the central pod of the tent.

She called police at 1.16am saying: “He is driving right at my tent.”

Layfield, who had been celebrating his birthday at the campsite bar, drove off before police arrived but was stopped on the A303 at Marshn on his way to home to Somerset.

He failed a breath test two hours, later but his reading was so close to the limit he was not prosecuted. He had drunk at least four lagers and two rum and cokes.

Layfield, 53, of South Quarry Piece Road, South Petherton, denied dangerous driving but was found guilty at Exeter Crown Court last month.

He was jailed for 18 months, suspended for 18 months, ordered to do 100 hours unpaid community work and banned from driving for a year,

Judge David Evans told him: “Because of your anger, you drove through the left hand sleeping compartment. You may have known there was no-one in that part of the tent but they were inside and nearby.

“You could not possibly account for the risk that the tent might get caught up in the wheels of your car and dragged into it.”

During the trial, Victoria Bastock, prosecuting, said Layfield and his partner were staying in a tent in at Widemouth Bay on July 25 last year when they went out to celebrate his birthday at the Club Room on the site.

Miss Bastock said camper Dominic Chadwick was in a tent close by and heard the argument.

She said: “Mr Chadwick looked out of his tent and saw Layfield get into his car and drive off, apparently faster than the 5mph limit.

“Things went quiet and after a few minutes he saw the vehicle pull up in front of the tent, get out, and argue with his partner again.. He then saw Layfield get back in the car and drive directly at a windbreak outside the tent and across part of the tent itself.”

Layfield was then seen to get out and pull the tent apart with his hands and get back into the car.

Layfield said he had not aimed at the tent but had hit the windbreak in front of it by accident as he drove off in the dark. He did not give evidence at his trial.

Warren Robinson, defending, said Layfield had no previous convictions and had been assessed as a good prospect for rehabilitation by the probation service.