Driver was more than three times drink-drive limit when police found him stumbling at crash scene

A grieving widower seeking solace in booze following his wife’s cancer death crashed his car into a wall while over three times the limit.

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 4:55 am

Stuart Kelly, 52, was also coping with the loss of his job with Northern Power Grid when he came off the road in his car in Washington.

Kelly, of Thornton Close, Washington, got out and stumbled up the road but was so drunk he barely made any ground before police arrived.

Prosecutor Sarah Malkinson said he claimed the early hours accident was caused by him swerving to miss a dog.

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South Tyneside Magistrates Court

But booze also played a role, as Kelly gave a reading of 122mcgs of alcohol in 100mls of breath, against a legal limit of 35mcgs.

She said police also found him in possession of controlled class B drug amphetamine after his arrest on Thursday, June 10.

District Judge Paul Currer told Kelly he sympathised with his personal distress but said he should not have got behind the wheel.

He spared him jail but imposed an eight-week sentence, suspended for 18-months, and banned him from driving for three years.

Ms Malkinson told South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court: “Officers responded to a road traffic accident.

“The driver was seen to try to drive away in a damaged vehicle.

“He was seen stumbling away and when stopped by the police, his eyes were glazed and his speech was slurred.

“The defendant was asked if he had been the driver of the car and confirmed he had been.

“He was taken into custody and found in possession of amphetamine.

“He said that he swerved out of the way to avoid a dog.”

Joanne Gatens, defending, said Kelly’s world had fallen apart after his wife was diagnosed with cancer in 2018 and died within months.

She added: “He accepts that he uses alcohol as an emotional crutch.

“He knew that he had had a drink and was over the limit. He maintains his account that he swerved to avoid a dog.”

Kelly, who has a drink-drive conviction from 2007, was also ordered to undergo 10 days of rehabilitation work with the Probation Service.

And he must complete 15 sessions of the drink-driver impaired programme, and pay a £128 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.

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