A DRIVER crashed into parked cars then claimed to police his van had been stolen.

Lee Patrick Woolley said he fell asleep at the wheel of his van in Broadwater, Worthing.

Hours after crashing he reported the van was stolen and stood by his statement to the police.

He said he has been under the strain of working long hours and being evicted from accommodation in Worthing.

But the 31-year-old carpenter was told that a test on his van’s airbag had revealed only his DNA.

Woolley appeared at Brighton Crown Court where he admitted perverting the course of justice and failing to stop at the scene of an accident.

Judge Ann Arnold revealed that had he stopped and reported the incident, he may not have faced any criminal proceedings at all as the collisions would have been handled by his insurance.

But because he had lied to the police she said she had to send him to prison for four months.

Woolley, of Old Shoreham Road, Southwick, had been driving in Broadwater at 3.15am in February last year.

Dale Sullivan, prosecuting, said Woolley’s van hit a Volkswagen Polo, a Hyundai, a Nissan Micra and a Vauxhall Zafira before crashing in Sompting Road.

He said the crashes caused “significant” damage to all the vehicles.

Woolley claimed he must have left the keys in his van before it was stolen, then took a week to make himself available to give a statement to the police.

Mr Sullivan said: “Ultimately, a DNA report from the deployed airbag contained the DNA of this defendant. So at interview he admitted he had been driving at the time and had failed to stop. He also admitted giving a false statement to the police to divert attention away from himself.”

William England, defending, said Woolley has recently separated from his wife and children.

The couple had been evicted suddenly by their private landlord in Worthing.

After applying to Worthing Borough Council, they were told the nearest emergency accommodation was in Gillingham, Kent.

But the couple decided they did not want to take their children out of school in Worthing so have been commuting long hours.

Meanwhile Woolley had been working extra hours to make ends meet as a carpenter.

Mr England said his client accepted he had acted with “stupidity”.

“He woke up one morning and realised he had been a complete idiot,” Mr England said.

Judge Arnold told Woolley said: “The accident damaged numerous vehicles, causing considerable upset.

“You say it was because you were tired.

“That is simply not good enough.

“You put the public at risk and made a false statement to the police.

“It meant the police had to go through the expense of a forensic examination, revealing your DNA on the airbag.”

She jailed Woolley for four months, reduced from six months, because of his early plea.