Sunderland man caught drink driving after mental health struggle during covid pandemic

A Sunderland man who has struggled with the coronavirus pandemic was caught over the limit after a heavy booze session the night before.

Saturday, 12th December 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Saturday, 12th December 2020, 12:33 pm

Stephen Coles, 44, was watched by police getting into his Ford Mustang outside Sunderland’s Royal Marine pub and heading in the direction of another bar.

But they had been tipped off that the construction firm worker, of Honister Drive, Seaburn, had been drinking – and pulled him over.

Coles insisted he had downed just three pints in the previous three hours but gave a roadside breath test reading of over twice the limit.

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He was caught in Sea Road after leaving one pub and driving in the direction of another.

And magistrates in South Tyneside heard it shot up further by the time he supplied two further breath samples at a police station on Sunday, October 25.

The first-time offender has now been banned from the roads for 21 months and hit with fines and court costs of over £700.

Prosecutor Becky Slade said: “Officers were on duty and had cause to attend the area of Sea Road in relation to a possible drink-driver at the Royal Marine public house.

“A vehicle was located and they checked the registration plate and found it was registered to the defendant.

“A short time later the car started to move away towards the Bluebell pub.”

Ms Slade said officers pulled the vehicle over and an officer the defendant had glazed eyes, slurred speech, and he smelled of alchohol

She said Coles gave a roadside reading of 79mcgs of alcohol in 100mls of breath and was arrested. The legal limit is 35mcgs.

She told the hearing the lowest of the two samples given on a CAMIC device at the police station was 88mcgs.

Angus Westgarth, defending, said: “He has had difficulty coping with the Covid pandemic and has suffered with mental health.

“He states that he had three pints over three hours. He admitted that he had drunk the night before.

“It was substantial if you start drinking again and topping up, and that’s why he was over the limit.”

Coles, who the court heard had seen his wage reduce by a third during the pandemic, pleaded guilty to drink-driving.

He was fined £576 and must pay £85 court costs and a £57 victim surcharge.

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