Taxi driver was three times the legal cocaine limit when stopped by police

Peterlee Magistrates' Court.
Peterlee Magistrates' Court.

A taxi driver has lost his licence after being caught driving with over three times the legal limit of cocaine and cannabis in his system.

Henry Cowell, 30, was routinely stopped by police on Station Road, Seaham, and failed a roadside drugs test.

A photo tweeted by @DurhamRPU following Henry Cowell's arrest.

A photo tweeted by @DurhamRPU following Henry Cowell's arrest.

Peterlee Magistrates’ Court heard that Cowell was not working at the time, and the vehicle – a Skoda Octavia – was being driven for personal use.

Cowell pleaded guilty to three charges of driving over the drugs limit.

The drugs test showed he had 32 microgrammes of cocaine in his system per litre of blood – the legal limit is 10.

He also had 6.8 microgrammes of cannabis per 100ml of blood, with the legal limit standing at two.

He wasn’t aware that the drug would remain in his system at such a high level for a longer period of time

Jaxon Taylor

Benzoylecgonine, a product of the body’s metabolism of cocaine, was also found in Cowell’s system at 200 microgrammes per litre of blood – the legal limit is 50.

Cowell, formerly of Eastlea Road, Seaham, but now of no fixed abode, was stopped by police at 12.40am on Sunday, April 30, and the court heard he told officers upon his arrest that he had consumed £250 worth of cocaine the previous night.

Jaxon Taylor, defending, said Cowell did not realise the drugs would still be in his system.

He told the court: “He was driving a taxi, but that is not an aggravating factor, because he was not on duty at the time. His mum has her own taxi firm and he was employed as a driver, and had been allocated a vehicle which he also used as his personal vehicle.

“To all intents and purposes, the effects of the drugs on him had reduced to such an extent that he didn’t feel them, and he didn’t believe he was unfit to drive.

“He wasn’t aware that the drug would remain in his system at such a high level for a longer period of time. Nothing about his driving led the police officer stopping him – it was routine.”

Cowell – who lost his taxi licence and vehicle on the day of the incident – was banned from driving from 24 months and ordered to pay a £145 fine, £85 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.