London - A driver suspected of a drunken hit-and-run escaped after police refused to follow him into a muddy field.
Latvian Marcis Blahins allegedly smashed into two cars – including one with a family of three inside.
But the 35-year-old was able to run away after police took nearly half an hour to turn up to the incident near Newmarket in Suffolk.
When four officers finally arrived, one said: ‘It’s muddy, pitch-black and we haven’t got much hope.’
In fact, CCTV from a nearby pub suggests Blahins, who worked as a builder, hid in the field for five hours before entering the premises.
Witnesses said he appeared drunk and staff ordered him a taxi home.
Aaron Tokley, whose car was damaged, managed to identify the suspect within 24 hours after his father appealed on social media.
But the detective work went to waste as Blahins had already fled.
He is believed to have gone abroad or be hiding with friends. Mr Tokley yesterday said he plans to complain formally.
He said: ‘Realistically, all you need is a torch. How far is a drunk guy who’s just been in a crash going to go in dark fields? It’s just not good enough. They are admitting defeat before they even started.’
Blahins, who was trained as a bankruptcy lawyer, narrowly avoided jail four months ago after telling magistrates in Ipswich he was getting help for a drink problem following an alcohol-fuelled crash that left him injured.
He was given a 12-week suspended sentence and banned from driving for three years after admitting drink-driving, driving while disqualified and using false number plates over the crash in Icklingham, Suffolk, in April.
His father, who asked not to be named, last night said he went off the rails after mixing a ‘good salary’ with alcohol. He added: ‘Bad things happen if you have money and spend it on the wrong things. Marcis spent it on alcohol. He was not able to get out of this habit.
‘The reason that he ran away is that he is now afraid he will go straight to jail.’
He said that his divorcee son had a number of girlfriends after moving to the UK in around 2009 to work first as a carer then as a builder. The father said: ‘The latest one is a very good lady but she told Marcis, “I don’t want you if you drink so much.”’
Blahins’ Jeep Cherokee was on the wrong side of the road in Great Bradley when it hit a Mitsubishi Outlander with a couple and their four-year-old girl inside at about 5.25pm last Saturday.
The car then careered into a Mercedes C220 driven by barber shop-owner Mr Tokley, 29, who suffered severe whiplash and bruising. The father-of-one said: ‘The police turned up probably 30 minutes after the accident.
‘That was slow because it could have been fatal and they had been made aware that he had done a runner. I said there were locals out there looking for him, is anyone going to track him down and the PC said, “To be honest, he’s probably long gone and it’s muddy, pitch-black and we haven’t got much hope.” The PCs laughed when I asked if there was a helicopter or dog unit. They said there’s no helicopter unit any more due to the cuts.’
He said the officers took statements before leaving after an hour and a half.
The Facebook appeal by Mr Tokley’s father led to scores of messages, including from a woman who said Blahins had crashed into her car earlier that day. Mr Tokley, of nearby Haverhill, handed evidence to police on Monday. But an officer told him: ‘I’ve got something more important to deal with.’
Blahins, who began training as a helicopter pilot earlier this year, rented a room in a house in Haverhill. His housemate Romans Bluks, 31, said Blahins left on Sunday morning with a bag of clothes.
‘He said he’s in trouble and he’s going to his friends or family,’ he said. Mr Bluks added Blahins had a ‘very bad drinking problem’.
Suffolk Police said officers searched a hedgerow and footpath ‘but there was no trace of the man… said to have fled’.