'I have extreme concern you are going to kill somebody' - judge's words to serial drink-driver

“I have extreme concern that you are going to kill somebody” – these are the words of a judge as she sentenced a serial drink-driver who was caught in Sunderland.

Thursday, 1st August 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 1st August 2019, 2:37 pm
A Northumbria Police vehicle

Lee Peel, 31, pleaded guilty to drink-driving – his fourth conviction for the offence – following his arrest on June 30.

Peel, of Elemore Lane in Houghton, had already been subject to a driving ban when he got behind the wheel last month, South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard.

He pleaded guilty to charges of: driving under the influence of alcohol, driving while disqualified and driving without insurance.

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Prosecutor Glenda Beck said: “At 1.50am a police officer was on mobile patrol in Houghton-le-Spring.

“He says his attention was drawn to an Audi A4 motor vehicle that was being driven erratically.”

Peel was pulled over and the officer noted that he was under the influence of drink or drugs, the court was told.

“The vehicle is insured by his partner who was present with him at the time of his being stopped,” the prosecutor said.

He failed a breath test, with 48 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath – the legal limit is 35 microgrammes.

His defence team acknowledged that this was Peel’s fourth conviction for driving with excess alcohol, but pointed out that this was the first time he had driven while disqualified.

They disputed that the driving had been ‘erratic’, as the police described – and noted that he had been ‘fully compliant’ when the officer stopped him.

District Judge Sarah Griffiths said that she had been planning to send Peel to prison before hearing the defence mitigation.

She said: “As far as I am concerned you are a danger to innocent, law-abiding road users.

“I have extreme concern that you are going to kill somebody.

“I do not know what it is going to take to stop you from driving when you have had a drink.

“I am going to give you a last chance because I believe the only hope in perhaps finally getting through to you the dangers of this offence and to be driving in a law-abiding way is to give you an opportunity to do the course that is particularly targeted towards this offence.”

Peel was given a 14-week prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He must complete 150 hours of unpaid work and was banned from driving for 56 months.

He was also ordered to pay £85 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.