A DRINK driver can fulfil his dream of a new year wedding after a judge agreed to give him a chance to stay out of jail.
Darren Lascelles’ marriage ceremony to his girlfriend at Gretna Green on January 20 was in jeopardy when he was caught behind the wheel of his partner’s car in South Shields, while two-and-a-half times the drink drive limit in April.
The 39-year-old, of Cowdray Road, Hylton Castle, Sunderland, faced having a suspended 12-month sentence for importing controlled drugs activated, which would mean he would miss his big day, or he could have been unable to attend if the alternative of a home curfew was imposed.
At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday Judge Penny Moreland did impose a curfew – which means Lascelles must be in his home every night – but said it will expire the evening before his wedding.
Today, road safety charity Brake condemned the move.
His barrister Vic Laffey told the court: “They are getting married. They are going to Gretna Green. It is on January 20 for four days.” Mr Laffey said Lascelles had already lost his job at Nissan as a result of the drink-drive conviction and did not want to lose his chance to attend his wedding.
Judge Penny Moreland told Lascelles: “When police stopped you you were two-and-a-half times the limit. That is serious offending, the kind that can lead to dreadful accidents taking place.”
The judge said she was impressed by Lascelles’ response to the drug rehabilitation requirement imposed as part of the last court order, which he says had changed his life.
Judge Moreland told him: “I imposed the suspended sentence and said if you committed any further offence you would be in breach of the order, come back to court and expect to serve that sentence.
“I am invited by your legal team to say that the situation has changed since then and I should give you another chance. I am prepared to give you another chance.
“There wont be any more chances.”
Lascelles was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months with supervision, programme requirements and a 12-hour night-time curfew until January 19.
He was fined £200 and banned from the roads for four years.
Lascelles had admitted driving with excess alcohol, using a vehicle with no insurance and driving otherwise in accordance with a licence.
Police had spotted him driving in South Shields and a breath test revealed he was over the limit.
Dave Nichols, spokesman for Brake, said: “Drink driving remains one of the biggest killers on our roads, which is why penalties for such offences should be much tougher, to provide a stronger deterrent against incredibly risky behaviour.
“Many victims and families we work with regularly say they feel let down by the justice system, especially when grossly lenient penalties do not reflect the seriousness of the crime.”