NHS worker caught drink-driving at McDonald's after police tip-off from colleague

An NHS worker was caught drink-driving at a South Tyneside McDonald’s outlet after a tip off to police from a colleague, a court heard.

By Gareth Crickmer
Saturday, 21st May 2022, 4:55 am

Samantha Cawkwell’s behaviour at an Aldi supermarket four miles away at Pelaw, Gateshead, raised concerns and led to officers being alerted.

Soon afterwards, they located Cawkwell, 50, of Richmond Avenue, Bill Quay, Gateshead, parked outside the fast-food site at Boldon Colliery.

A breath test showed the Covid advice handler, who also has a drink-drive conviction from 2007, was over the limit.

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McDonald's at Boldon Colliery.

She is starting a 17-month roads’ ban after pleading guilty at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court to driving with excess alcohol.

Prosecutor Gurjot Kaur said: “Police were contacted by a colleague of the defendant who raised concerns about her demeanour, about her being at Aldi at Pelaw.

“At the McDonald’s at Boldon, officers found her in the driver’s seat and over the limit. She was taken to a police station.”

Ms Kaur told magistrates the sentencing guidelines were for a disqualification of 17 to 22 months.

Cawkwell, whose sole previous conviction was her earlier drink-drive offence, gave a reading of 63mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mcg.

Duncan Emmerson, defending, told the hearing: “The defendant has come to court today to plead guilty at the first opportunity.

“Can I say how remorseful she is about this situation. She had been drinking earlier in the day and she felt able to drive, but the reading doesn’t reflect that.

“She shouldn’t have been driving, she admits that. Her previous offence was 15 years ago. There’s no evidence that her driving was impaired in any way.”

Magistrates, who heard Cawkwell had been suspended from work due to the offence, also fined her £150, with £85 court costs and a £34 victim surcharge.

John Lee, chair of the bench, told her: “You made a catastrophic error of judgement that day.”

Cawkwell was offered a place on a drink-drive rehabilitation programme, the successful completion of which reduces the road ban by a quarter.

After being sentenced, Cawkwell told the court: “I’m so sorry, I really am.”