Court hears how South Tyneside nurse attacked police officers after they caught her drink driving

The incident happened in August.
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A South Tyneside nurse attacked two traffic policemen after they caught her drink driving – then stopped her from vaping, a court heard.

Grace Cunningham, 38, pushed one officer after forcing her way out of the back of a police car against orders after giving a positive breath test.

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The mum-of-two, of Lynwood Way, Cleadon Park, kneed the second PC while detained on the ground – and fired a barrage of vile abuse at both.

Court hears how South Tyneside nurse attacked police officers after they caught her drink drivingCourt hears how South Tyneside nurse attacked police officers after they caught her drink driving
Court hears how South Tyneside nurse attacked police officers after they caught her drink driving

She lashed out after being followed south through the Tyne Tunnel and pulled over after attending a party in North Tyneside on Sunday, August 13.

Borough magistrates were told her roadside breath test in Leam Lane, near Jarrow, placed her almost three times over the legal limit.

It was also the second time in four years Cunningham, who has since quit her job, had been caught drunk at the wheel – and she is starting a 40-month roads’ ban.

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Prosecutor Holly Clegg said: “She was told that she had been pulled over for driving at access speed.

“Officers could smell alcohol and she was unsteady on her feet. She admitted that she had had a glass of wine.

“She gave a roadside breath test of 103mcg. She was arrested and told she would be required to provide further breath tests at a police station.

“She denied that she was drunk and said she was a nurse and would need a blood test.

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“The officer would not let her out to vape. She pushed out of the car. She pushed one officer with both hands.

“She was pinned to the car by both officers. She kneed the other officer on his thigh. She was abusive and argumentative.”

The court was told the incident happened in a live lane of the dual carriageway and other police had to attend to ensure safety.

Cunningham later gave two evidential breath samples, with a lowest reading of 84mcg of alcohol. The legal limit is 35mcg.

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She was also caught drink driving in 2019 and driving while banned and without insurance in January 2020.

David Forrester, defending, said Cunningham’s woes stemmed from being the victim of domestic abuse.

He said her former abuser had driven past the party scene and shouted, causing her to flee in fear.

Mr Forrester also insisted she had not meant to assault the officers and had done so recklessly rather than intentionally.

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He added: “It’s quite clear she was in quite a bad way in relation to her state of mind in the way she acted with the officers.

“It’s suggested that she pushed the officer out of the way because she wanted to get out of the car to vape.

“When taken to the ground, she accepts that she struggled a bit. She brought her knee up, she didn’t mean any harm.”

Cunningham pleaded guilty to two counts of assault by beating of an emergency worker and drink driving.

Magistrates told her she needed help with alcohol and sentenced her to a 12-month community order, with 20 rehabilitation days, with £114 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.