A drink-driver who overturned her car while four-and-a-half times over the limit is fighting a court battle to stay out of jail.
Single mum Phillipa Jones faces a prison sentence because of her alcohol reading of 162 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath - the legal limit being 35 – after the crash in Fence Houses.
It is conceded she was well over the legal limit. She said she felt terrible before she drove, but she didn’t think straight, didn’t think she was over the limitNeil Hodgson, defending
That reading puts her over the threshold for a potential prison sentence and - after admitting drink driving at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court – she will now be the subject of a special hearing, where she will claim she drank alcohol after the crash and before police arrived.
Magistrates heard Jones, 32, had been on her way to pick up her six-year-old child from a relative when she crashed into a parked car and her Peugeot 207 came to a rest on its side opposite the Chilton Meadows children’s nursery at Colliery Row.
Jones, magistrates heard, will argue at her sentencing hearing that the stress of the accident, on Sunday, October 11, led her to have a drink from a bottle of rosé wine she had in her handbag.
That could spell the difference between an immediate and a suspended prison sentence, and Jones, of Station Avenue South, Fence Houses, is expected to take to the witness stand during the sentencing hearing on December 2.
Her solicitor Neil Hodgson told the court he wants his client to be sentenced in the lower bracket of the sentencing band, which applies to a reading starting from 120.
Prosecutor John McGlone said Liam Smith had left his Citroen Picasso outside a relative’s house and, five minutes later, heard a loud bang.
He said: “Mr Smith went outside because he was worried about his son, who was playing in the front garden. His vehicle had been pushed along the pavement and was damaged, and he saw the Peugeot lying on its right-hand side.
“The defendant was the only occupant and was assisted from the vehicle by Mr Smith and other members of the public.”
Jones was taken to a nearby house. She was arrested and two breath tests were carried out. The lower of the readings was 162 microgrammes.
Mr McGlone said Jones had at first told police she’d had a glass of wine after the crash, but later said she had drunk half a bottle.
Neil Hodgson, defending, said: “This lady has never been arrested, never been before a court. She’s extremely distressed and upset.
“The previous day she had been to see a friend and had a couple of bottles of wine and got a lift back the following day. She hadn’t had anything to eat since the Friday.
“At 2.30pm she was driving to pick up her child and, on her way through Fence Houses, she collided with the parked vehicle.
“The reading is extremely high. She is adamant she had nothing to drink on the morning, but she had been drinking very heavily in the early hours of the morning.
“After the accident she got out of the vehicle and was taken into a neighbour’s house. There, she said she suffered a panic attack and had a drink from a bottle of wine she had in her handbag.
“It is conceded she was well over the legal limit. She said she felt terrible before she drove, but she didn’t think straight, didn’t think she was over the limit.”
Mr Hodgson said he would seek the advice of an expert in back-calculations prior to the next hearing, adding: “My estimate is she was two to three times the limit.”