THE case against an alleged drug driver collapsed after prosecutors failed to prepare a vital report requested by a defence lawyer.

At Carlisle's Rickergate Magistrates' Court, 21-year-old Stefan Nicholson had entered not guilty pleas to two allegations - one of driving while under the influence of cannabis and another that he drove with 16 times the legal limit for cocaine in his system.

But District Judge Gerald Chalk threw out the case, ruling that Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyers had failed to prepare the case properly and it would be unfair to continue the prosecution.

Mr Nicholson, of Bridge Street, Longtown, had been due to face a trail to determine whether he was guilty or innocent.

The most dramatic allegation he faced was that he drove his Ford Fiesta on Bridge Street on December 8 last year while having 800mcg of the cocaine breakdown product benzoylecgonine in his blood-stream.

The legal limit is 50mcg.

The second charge - also denied - was that he had just over twice the legal limit of cannabis in his body.

In court, prosecutor Andy Travers said that an initial report on the blood samples given by the defendant after his arrest had been prepared.

But in all such cases defendants have the right to have a second, more detailed analysis carried out on the blood sample.

Once prepared, that report usually represents the key piece of prosecution evidence.

"This was not done," said Mr Travers, explaining that the defence request had slipped through the net within the CPS.

The mistake was identified a week ago but given the workload currently faced by the forensic laboratory which is used by the CPS for such cases it had not been possible to have the analysis requested by the defence carried out, added the prosecutor.

Marcus Johnstone, for Mr Nicholson, said his firm had sent at least three communications to the CPS about the case, with some of those messages copied to court officials.

The defence also requested that a police officer who was involved in the case should attend the trial - yet that officer had not appeared at court, said the lawyer.

"His statement was rejected from the outset," said Mr Johnstone.

"Yet we have been given no reason as to why that officer is not in attendance."

He said it was not the prosecutor's fault that there had been insufficient preparation for the trial, adding: "But it is becoming an increasingly common problem that the CPS are not providing evidence or disclosure of important documents which are needed."

Mr Johnstone urged District Judge Chalk to reject the prosecutor's request for an adjournment, adding: "Clearly something has gone wrong with the prosecution system but that is not a reason to grant and adjournment."

The judge agreed, saying: "The CPS has manifestly failed to do the preparatory work. I have to be fair to both sides and it would not be fair to continue."

Mr Travers said the prosecution, in view of the judge's comment, formally offered no evidence and invited the judge to dismiss the case.

Judge Chalk added: "I formally dismiss the charges."