‘Worst drink-driving case we’ve seen’ say magistrates

OUT OF COURT  ...   Graham Hall
OUT OF COURT ... Graham Hall

A DRUNKEN ex-soldier took his five-year-old daughter for a car ride to the beach at 5am in what magistrates described as the worst drink-driving case they have ever dealt with.

Police saw Graham Hall reverse a car into metal railings in Keppel Street, South Shields, in the early hours of Friday, March 1.

When they got to the car, they found the 30-year-old clearly drunk, and his daughter was in the front seat of the vehicle, not properly strapped in.

Hall was arrested, and the officers then discovered that he hadn’t passed a driving test and wasn’t insured to get behind the wheel.

A breath test revealed Hall was more than twice the legal driving limit for driving.

He pleaded guilty at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court to being drunk in charge of a child and drink-driving. Hall also admitted driving without a licence or insurance.

Despite magistrates saying it was the worst case of drink driving they had come across, Hall was spared jail and was instead given a nine-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months and an 18-month driving ban.

Chairman of the bench Gerry Tierney said: “This is probably the worst drink-driving case I’ve seen, and I’ve been on this bench for 20 years.

“The potential consequences are unthinkable.

“Hopefully, this will be a lesson to you.

“The four charges on their own are bad, but together they all aggravate each other.

“If you breach any of the things that are required of you, you are in danger of going to prison.”

Hall, a builder, of Evanlade, Leam Lane, Gateshead, was also given a one-year supervision order and told to complete a drink-driving programme.

John McGlone, prosecuting, told the court Hall had a reading of 86mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath, the legal limit being 35mg.

Mr McGlone said: “He told the officers he had been out drinking between 8.30pm and 11.30pm the night before, and when he got home, he phoned work to see if he could borrow a car.

“For some reason, they allowed him to get one, and he drove from his home in Gateshead to South Shields with his daughter.”

Rachel Mangini, defending, told the court that Hall was a former soldier and had done tours of duty in Iraq, Kosovo and Northern Ireland between 2002 and 2006.

He was now likely to lose his job as a builder, she said, adding: “He is a binge-drinker and had been out with friends the night before.

“When his daughter woke up at 5am, she asked to go to the beach and, for some reason, he did.

“These are extremely unpleasant offences, but he is a family man, with three children to look after, and has served his country.

“He is also trying to get help for his drinking.”

Twitter: @ShieldsGazCrime