Soldier’s wife fined for drinking with a man

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A SERGEANT major’s wife was found drunk in charge of her car shortly before the family were due to move to Cyprus.

Lisa McCowliff was discovered, along with a man, in the car at Claxheugh Rocks near South Hylton, Sunderland, in the early hours of August 3.

At Sunderland Magistrates’ Court yesterday, the 34-year-old told police they had gone to the secluded spot shortly before midnight to talk.

The mother-of-two admitted drinking two glasses of white wine at a neighbour’s house, then a vodka and lemonade at the Railway Tavern in Hylton Road.

But she denied having any more alcohol until about 1am, when the pair realised the car’s battery had run flat.

Too scared to call her husband John, they had sat drinking vodka and orange juice until about 5am, when women in another car nearby called police.

Officers arrested the pair and found the car keys in the front of the car, but were unable to start it.

A breath test reading carried out at Gillbridge police station showed McCowliff was nearly twice the legal limit.

She denied being drunk in charge of a vehicle, but was found guilty by magistrates after a three-hour trial.

Prosecuting, Stephen Davies argued McCowliff could have left the car once she discovered it could not start, and that if it had started she would have driven while over the limit.

McCowliff, who gave her address as Alexander Barracks, Dhekelia, Cyprus, told police she was not over the limit until her friend offered her the vodka, and admitted they had “kissed and cuddled” before police arrived.

Fighting back tears in court, adding: “I just felt sorry for him, because my husband is a sergeant major and he does not cry, and he was crying and I just felt sorry for him.

“He asked me not to go and he would change and get a job and look after me.”

She added: “I just wanted to change my life and go to Cyprus.

“I know I have been stupid. I knew I should not have been there.

“I should not have given him the benefit of the doubt.”

Mitigating, Ian Cassidy said his client would not and could not have driven the car.

Magistrates imposed 10 points on McCowliff’s licence and order she pay £500 towards court costs and a £110 fine.

Twitter: @janethejourno