Sunderland gran downed a bottle of wine and crashed her car after news of suicide

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A GRANDMOTHER crashed her car while three times the legal drink-drive limit after downing a bottle of wine at the side of the road.

Carolyn Bell had been on her way home to Fulwell after teaching gymnastics at the Seaburn Centre on August 15, when she was given the news that a friend had committed suicide.

Sunderland Magistrates’ Court heard that the 52-year-old pulled over to take the devastating phone call from a mutual friend, just three minutes away from her home in Burscough Crescent.

To calm her nerves, the court heard, she opened the wine to have a drink, and ended up finishing the whole bottle.

Just moments after she drove off, at 8.30pm, she lost control of her Fiat Punto and smashed into a Renault Laguna, parked in Tyzak Crescent. Bell, who has no previous convictions, was found to have 105 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath – three times the 35 microgrammes legal limit.

Prosecutor Janice Bellamy said Bell told police at the scene: “I’m sorry, I know I’ve done wrong.”

Ian Cassidy, mitigating, said: “She was sat in the car shaken and distressed when, for some reason she cannot explain, she had a drink out of the bottle of wine to calm herself down.

“She consumed the entire bottle and she accepts, extremely foolishly, drove the rest of the journey through the estate – a three-minute journey.

“As she pulled in, there was a vehicle parked and she simply reacted in a poor way. Her foot slipped off the brake and she collided with the vehicle.

“She is absolutely devastated by what has happened. Since the incident, she has stopped drinking altogether.”

District judge Roger Elsey told Bell that the alcohol reading would usually attract a community sentence, but that he was prepared to impose a £300 fine given her previous good character.

“At your age, being a lady of good character, I expect the proceedings have been a punishment to you in themselves,” the judge told her.

“I hope and expect that you will not be repeating this sort of offence.”

Bell was also given a 20-month driving ban and was told to pay a £30 victim surcharge and £85 in costs.