South Shields care home worker caught drink-driving after turning to alcohol 'to cope with stress of the pandemic'

A care home worker stressed by the covid pandemic was caught drink-driving while over three times the limit after turning to alcohol to cope.

Rachel Gibson, 32, was so drunk she was unsure she had even been drinking when a worried witness came to her aid in Quarry Lane, Cleadon Park, South Shields.

Gibson, of Darras Court, Chichester, South Shields, was spared jail for the offence on Wednesday, October 28 – her second drive-conviction since 2017.

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She faced up to 26 weeks behind bars and a five-year driving ban after pleading guilty to the crime on the day of a planned trial.

The case was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.The case was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.
The case was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.

Magistrates jailed her for 12 weeks but suspended the sentence for a year – and disqualified her from driving for four years.

Prosecutor Paul Anderson said: “A witness was walking her dog when she saw a vehicle that was being driven erratically.

“It sounded like it was in a low gear and was bunny hopping and almost collided with a bus.

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“She was concerned that the driver was in need of medical assistance and spoke to her but found that she was very drunk.

“The witness described her car as ‘smelling like a brewery’. She was asked if she had been drinking and said, ‘I don’t think that I have’.

“The police have come. There was an empty wine bottle in the vehicle.

“She said that she had dropped the car off at 10.30am and went to a friend’s address nearby.

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“She then went back to the car to pick up some items and dropped the wine bottle, which was why it smelled so much.”

Gibson blew 123mcgs of alcohol in 100mls of breath. The legal limit is 35mcgs.

Amy Hossack, defending, said Gibson had been impacted by numerous coronavirus deaths at her care home.

She said Gibson had also been working 70-hour weeks and had herself been struck down by the virus.

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Ms Hossack added: “She has been frank and said that she was coping by binge drinking.”

As part of the suspended sentence, Gibson must do 20 days of rehabilitation work with the Probation Service.

She must pay £300 court costs and a £128 victim surcharge.

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