Doctor 'self-medicated' with Stella Artois before crash which left dad in wheelchair

Dr Julia Morch-Siddall
Dr Julia Morch-Siddall

A doctor who used alcohol to "self medicate" a crippling health problem caused a serious smash which left a dad-of-three wheelchair bound.

Dr Julia Morch-Siddall had downed four-and-a-half cans of Stella Artois while behind the wheel of her Land Rover Freelander in order to help her cope with a rare menstrual disorder on January 30 this year.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how the well-respected 50-year-old was seen by a witness "meandering" across lanes on the A1 Southbound, near Team Valley, Gateshead, before hitting the central reservation a number of times.

The concerned witness called the police, and followed at a safe distance behind Morch-Siddall - even getting out of his own vehicle as she stalled at some traffic lights on A692, towards Lobley Hill, in attempt to talk to her and grab her keys.

But prosecutor Emma Dowling explained how the car was a keyless vehicle, and she managed to drive off - despite the man's attempts to curb her dangerous driving.

She then went through a red light and swerved onto the wrong side of the road - where she smashed into another vehicle.

Miss Dowling said: "This was a prolonged course of dangerous driving. These are serious injuries and are likely to have some long term residual problems.

"The victim was having to use a wheelchair and being dependant on family. He also lost significant earnings as a result of this."

The barrister explained how in a police interview, the doctor, understood to be an anaesthetist, appeared remorseful but admitted she "could not remember anything" about the incident.

The victim suffered fractures in both feet and suffers from significant mobility issues as a result of the crash.

The man, who is now using a crutch rather than a wheelchair, read out his victim personal statement to the court.

He said: "This has had a catastrophic impact on both my personal life and employment.

"I face a long road to recovery. My life was on hold being in a wheelchair and being housebound for months.

"I may never be able to participate in sports again. I am fearful of driving again.

"This could so easily have been fatal, and it would have devastated my children.

"The future appears bleak. I wish it never happened and I just want it to go back to the life I once had.

"The collision has been life changing with injuries from which I will never recover."

The victim also explained how he was due to fly to Florida in April to propose to his partner, but was unable to after the accident.

The defendant pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving and failing to provide a specimen.

Christopher Knox, defending, explained how Morch-Siddall suffers from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) - a severe disabling form of premenstrual syndrome affecting 3–8% of menstruating women.

He also said that she suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, which is heightened significantly during the time of the month that she suffers from PMDD.

Mr Knox said: "She had clearly got suicidal thoughts. She had an intention to drive into some stationary object with the view of ending her life.

"It is quite clear she was able to look after her professional life up until the early autumn of last year.

"She has had the care of her patients and they have all been well and properly cared for.

"She had a very severe mental illness at the time we are talking about. She took drink as self medication, unsuccessfully but compulsively on this unfortunate day.

"She is now a fit and proper person practicing her profession. She has done work for the World Heath Organistation in places such as West Bank, Palestine, Georgia, West Africa and Liberia.

"She has led a completely blameless life."

Judge Robert Adams, who described the defendant as a "very intelligent woman", handed her a sentence of 18 months suspended for 18 months.

He said: "There is enormous personal mitigation - there must be a significant reduction.

"You are considered to be a very low risk of re offending."

Morch-Siddall, of East Heddon, Heddon on the Wall, must complete 80 hours unpaid work and also was banned from driving for three years.