Former bricklayer caught driving at four times the limit after drinking gin and beer tells court he no longer intends to drive

A former bricklayer sank beer and gin – and then drove at almost four times the limit, a court has heard.

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 7:00 am
The case was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates Court

And Neil Wood, 62, of Westbourne Cottages, Shiney Row, did so for no better reason than to pick up a parcel.

Wood hit the bottle on Wednesday, May 19, after learning of a pal’s death, South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard.

On a toxic cocktail of booze and grief, he decided to jump into his Saab motor.

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But he was found parked up soon after in Newstead Road, Houghton-le-Spring, by concerned police who relieved him of his keys.

A breath test revealed 145mcgs of alcohol in 100mls of breath. The legal limit is 35mcgs.

Wood, who has a sole previous conviction, pleaded guilty to the drink-drive charge – and was handed a suspended prison term at South Tyneside Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

District Judge Kathryn Meek acknowledged it was a “one off incident” and Wood had been out of trouble for many years.

But she added: “The reading is so high that it has to be a custodial sentence.”

She jailed him for 12 weeks, suspended for a year – and banned him from driving for 30 months.

Defence solicitor Charlie Carr told the hearing: “It’s an odd one.

“It’s a gentleman who appears to have got himself in all sorts of trouble with possible erroneous consequences.

“The root of the problem seems to have been an emotional problem where a long-term friend has died.

“Rather foolishly, he started drinking lager and gin – and he took himself off to collect a parcel.

“It’s beyond me why he did that but that’s what he did. I think you can deal with this as an isolated incident.”

The court heard Wood, who worked as a bricklayer until last year, now suffers depression, and has prostate cancer.

He told the court he did not want to be offered a place on a drink-driver rehabilitation course, which reduces a disqualification by a quarter, because he no longer intends to drive.

Judge Meek also fined him £200, and he must pay a £228 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.

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