Plasterer who was caught driving at over three times the legal alcohol limit spared jail
A plasterer caught driving at over three times the legal booze limit while taking a faulty van for a spin in South Tyneside has been spared jail.
John Jones, 39, of Commercial Road, South Shields, revved up his partner’s Ford Transit after jump starting it – and then got behind the wheel for a test around town.
But when stopped by police at 10.20am on Thursday, March 30, in Rekendyke Lane, Mill Dam, the binge drinker gave a sky-high breath test reading, a court heard.
Jones had not touched a drop of drink that morning but had downed a vast amount over the previous few days as he struggled to come to terms with his father’s death.
At a previous hearing at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, he pleaded guilty to drink driving and failing to surrender to custody – and was threatened with jail by a district judge.
His sentencing hearing at the same court was told he was also caught drink driving in 2002 and at least once in 2016 had refused to provide a sample for analysis when suspected of driving drunk.
But magistrates stepped back from imposing an immediate jail sentence and instead suspended his 12-week prison term for two years.
They also banned him from the roads for three years and ordered him to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.
Prosecutor Glenda Beck said: “A police officer was tasked to attend Laygate in South Shields, in relation to a possible drink driver.
“A Ford Transit was located in Rekendyke Lane, and police instructed it to stop, which it did. The driver was Mr Jones, who appeared intoxicated.”
Jones gave a roadside breath test reading of 127mcg of alcohol, against a legal limit of 35mcg, leading to his arrest.
The lowest of two evidential readings taken at Sunderland’s Southwick police station showed 122mch of alcohol in breath.
Mrs Beck said sentencing guidelines for his level of alcohol was between 12 weeks and 26 weeks imprisonment.
Val Bell, defending, insisted Jones had driven only a short distance as a means of checking the vehicle was operational.
She added: “His partner lives in Perth in Scotland and he spends most of his time up there but he is from South Shields.
“He was back to spend time with his mother. There was the sad loss of his father. He was very close to his father, and it was his father’s birthday.
“He started to binge drink. There was a problem with the van, and it was started with jump leads and he took it around the block.
“He had moved only a short distance and hadn’t been drinking that day, but he accepts that the two or three days he was here at his mum’s, he had been binge drinking.
“He accepts his binge drinking has led to this and it needs to be addressed. While, clearly, he is still grieving for the loss of his father, this is not the way to deal with it.”
Jones must also complete 20 rehabilitation days with the Probation Service and pay a £154 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.