Sunderland drug-driver gets road ban after being stopped in Oxfordshire

A convicted Sunderland drug-driver who repeated the offence six years later has been spared jail.

Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 4:55 am

Lee Rowell, 39, was not stopped near his home in Chester Road, to the west of the city centre – but 250 miles away in Oxfordshire.

Police pulled him over after his red Ford C-Max triggered a roadside camera as he drove from Wearside.

He has been handed a suspended prison term – and is starting a three-year driving ban - after admitting taking the prohibited substances.

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The case was heard at South Tyneside Magistrates Court.

The dad-of-three took the drugs on Friday, May 14, after returning home from working away, South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard.

Two days later, as he drove back south, his car was stopped on Oxford Road, near Bicester.

Prosecutor Lesley Burgess said a blood test revealed he was over the limit for the breakdown products of class A cocaine and class B cannabis.

She added: “An ANPR camera was triggered as a car was seen driving from the Sunderland area and to Oxford.

“There was some form of marker on the vehicle and on the A34, police were waiting at a junction.

“They could smell cannabis, and a drugs' swipe proved positive.”

Rowell’s blood sample showed cannabis breakdown product THC at a level not less than 2.4mcg per litre of blood. The legal limit is 2mcg.

And it revealed cocaine breakdown product Benzoylecgonine at not less than 111mcg per litre of blood, against a legal limit of 50mcg.

The court heard Rowell was convicted of drug-driving in 2015, and under the 10-year, two strike rule was subject to a minimum three-year ban.

Rowell defended himself and confirmed he had drunk and taken drugs with friends, having been working away.

He said: “I got stopped in Oxford on the Sunday afternoon. I had agreed to pick a friend up from the station.

“There was a marker, and because I’d had a previous drug-drive, they swiped me.”

District Judge Kathryn Meek jailed Rowell for 12 weeks for each offence, to run concurrently and also suspended for a year, along with ordering him to pay a £128 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.