Terror as ‘unleashed’ DFDS ferry boss knocked down tents

A dangerous driving DFDS ferry skipper who mowed down tents at a busy campsite – avoiding killing its occupants only “by chance” – has avoided jail.

Jason Holman wreaked havoc as he rampaged through the center of Kingsdown International Scout Camp in Deal, smashing tents at night.

Jason Holman leaves Canterbury Crown Court

But the 42-year-old avoided “undoubtedly killing” owners visiting the nearby Zetland Arms pub as part of their holiday.

Eyewitnesses described watching in horror as the second DFDS mate cleared locations in the dark, with his headlights off, as families yelled at him to stop.

And tent owners Elise Smulova and Kathrin Schoeftenhube told of their horror after returning to learn they had narrowly avoided serious injury or death.

The sailor, who is largely stationed at the Port of Dover, was handed a suspended sentence by Canterbury Crown Court on Friday.

As he “smelled of alcohol,” Holman caught the attention of other campers by revving the engine of his Volkswagen Sharan noisily, with the lights off and a canoe on top.

“Horrified,” Oliver Sharp told the court. Holman suddenly “appeared to turn around” in the dark, destroying the tents.

Jason Holman leaves Canterbury Crown Court
Jason Holman leaves Canterbury Crown Court

He hoped “no one was inside” before rushing out and “removing the keys from the ignition”.

Mr Sharp described the smell of alcohol on the breath of Holman, whose partner was in the passenger seat, the court heard.

Guest Shelly Ransan filmed the aftermath and captured the moment the magnitude of Holman’s actions “revealed” to him.

Prosecutor Paul Valder explained: “(She) saw the staff trying to keep people calm, she filmed some of what was going on and people were like ‘do you know you went through tents?’

“Obviously what the defendant had done came to his mind, he can be heard on the video saying he shouldn’t have done it.”

The video was not played in court, however, other eyewitnesses recounted how Holman appeared drunk after his trail of destruction. .

A guest told officers in a statement that children ‘yelled at the driver, telling him to stop’ as he mowed tents.

Jason Holman, second mate at DFDS Ferries
Jason Holman, second mate at DFDS Ferries

They added that they had also “formed the opinion that Holman had been drinking”.

Another witness claimed in a statement that Holman appeared to be drunk, adding, “Fortunately the tent was unoccupied or the occupants would have been killed.”

Mr Valder said Ms Smulova and Schoeftenhube had returned to see their tents destroyed, when ‘the reality of what could have happened came to mind’.

Holman was arrested at the campsite, located off The Avenue, hours after the ordeal at 10 p.m. on September 11 last year.

The accused, who has a previous conviction for impaired driving, told officers he was over the limit because he drank alcohol after the incident.

Holman said he was sober at the time and was unaware of crashing in the tents because he was “a little angry” following an argument with his girlfriend, the court heard.

Jason Holmann, 42
Jason Holmann, 42

Judge Simon James told the court that Holman used the “hip ball” defense. This is where the defendant claims he was sober at the time and then became drunk after a traffic violation.

Handing down a 12-month sentence suspended for 18 months, he told Holman it was “just lucky” he wasn’t facing more serious charges.

“Miraculously no one was in the tents, if there had been they would no doubt have been killed or seriously injured.

The judge added that Holman’s immediate confinement would mean his children would suffer, and he was “pretty much persuaded” to suspend the sentence.

Canterbury Crown Court
Canterbury Crown Court

Mitigating Kieran Brand said Holman has been “offence-free” since the incident and “acknowledges that alcohol is a problem.”

He said Holman describes himself as sober at sea for two out of four weeks and then “loosies to excess” on land.

He added that Holman would “welcome” an intervention from the probation service and that his partner, who appeared in the public gallery, was also seeking help for an alcohol problem.

Holman, of Tower Hamlets Road, Dover, admitted dangerous driving and two counts of criminal damage before trial.

Port of Dover
Port of Dover

He was banned from driving for three years and will only be allowed to return to the road after an extended new test.

Holman was ordered to pay compensation for the tents, perform 200 hours of unpaid labor and undergo a six-month alcohol treatment program.

Earlier this year, prosecutors offered no evidence on the separate charge of driving under the influence of excess alcohol.

Terror as ‘unleashed’ DFDS ferry boss knocked down tents

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