A LORRY driver from Fordingbridge has been banned after he got lost in a small Devon village and crashed into four cottages and partially demolished a historic bridge.

Brian Ings panicked after missing signs for a diversion around Cadeleigh, near Rackenford , and finding the road out of the village was closed.

He got his articulated lorry stuck as he tried to turn in the narrow village street and hit four homes before moving on to cause more havoc in the car park of the Cadeleigh Arms.

Villagers pleaded with him to stop but he flattened part of the car park wall and drove off before crashing into the parapet of the Burn Bridge as he left the scene.

Ings, 66, of Sandleheath admitted dangerous driving and was conditionally discharged and disqualified from driving for 12 months by Judge Graham Cottle at Exeter Crown Court.

He said: "This is a highly unusual case of dangerous driving because nobody is suggesting you drove in a typically dangerous way by driving very fast or overtaking or going on the wrong side of the road.

“You were driving a lorry and went into the village of Cadeleigh where you should not have gone and once there, you panicked as you tried to find a way out.

“You caused damage to a number of buildings and were shouted at by residents. That was quite understandable but did not do much to calm your nerves and you damaged a bridge on the way out.

“You have been driving since you were 17 and are now 66 and of previous good character. You have lost your employment as a result of this incident and with it your plans to carry on working until you were 68 or 69.

“There is not much prospect of you getting another job and the disqualification is going to affect you because you live in a comparatively rural area.

“I am quite satisfied that in one way or another you have already been punished enough and it would not be a just outcome to heap on further punishment.”

Mr James Taghdissian, prosecuting, said the A 3072 road out of the village was closed on June 23 last year but Ings failed to see a well-signed diversion onto the A 377 and found himself stuck in Cadeleigh.

Villager Mrs Maureen Martin saw him trying to turn around and hitting her School Cottage and other buildings after getting him truck stuck.

He then tried to turn in the car park of the Cadeleigh Arms but only succeeded in demolishing a section of its wall as landlord James Copeland shouted at him to stop.

Mr Taghdissian said when Ings eventually got his articulated lorry free he crashed into a bridge on Burnbridge Hill, knocking down part of the parapet and causing an estimated £3,750 damage.

Mr Peter Coombe, defending, said Ings has lost his job as an HGV driver after a 32 year career, which he had hoped to carry on until he paid off his mortgage in two or three years time.

He said the owners of the properties should be compensated by insurance and Ings has already suffered financially through the loss of his job and having to pay for his defence costs.

He said: "He got into a panic. He got into the village and tried to turn round and leave. he got flustered and upset. The local inhabitants came out and shouted at him, which made it worse.”