Suffolk/Essex: Drink-driver who was nearly six times the limit spared jail

Drink-driver was nearly six times the limit Drink-driver was nearly six times the limit

Wednesday, December 18, 2013
10:58 AM

A mother whose son was killed by a drink-driver has criticised a decision not to jail a motorist who admitted to being nearly six-times the legal alcohol limit.

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Joseph Harrison’s breath test showed he had 202 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath when he was caught driving his employer’s van in Braintree after consuming a bottle of vodka. The legal alcohol limit is 35mcgs.

Despite saying they had never seen such a high reading, Colchester magistrates sentenced Harrison to a 16-week jail term suspended for 12 months and disqualified him from driving for three years.

However, after Harrison’s sentencing Jayne Jones, of Stowmarket, whose son Aiden was killed by drink-driver Nicholas Kemp in head-on crash near Needham Market in 2009, said: “I’m absolutely lost for words. Sixteen weeks – what’s that? He hasn’t even gone to prison. I think Mr Harrison should have been locked up straight away

“In my view he should have gone to prison for a lot longer than 16 weeks.”

Sentencing Harrison, chairman of the three-magistrate bench Nicholas Chilvers told him: “It’s an exceptionally high reading. (On) the guidelines we have it’s way off the scale. It’s just not there. This bench, in about 40 years of experience, has never come
across such a high reading.

“Given that the public were put at a high level of risk and this is a flagrant breach of the law we take the view a custodial sentence is appropriate.”

However, Mr Chilvers added the jail term would be suspended.

Harrison was also ordered to do 200 hours’ unpaid work, and must pay £80 to the victim’s fund. He was also told to pay £85 prosecution costs.

The builder was arrested after being stopped by police in Third Avenue, Braintree on December 11.

Previously prosecutor Sharon Hall told the court police were contacted at around 5.20pm by someone stating there had been a crash involving a van on the Blueridge Industrial Estate in Braintree.

When officers arrived there was no sign of a crash or the van.

However, Mrs Hall said subsequently police saw a van “crawling” along.

After driving up behind it, the Fiat Doblo came to a halt. When officers spoke to Harrison the smell of alcohol was overpowering, the court heard.

Magistrates heard Harrison, of Mickleton, near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire, realised he had an alcohol problem around three years ago and has attended Alcoholics Anonymous sporadically. He told the probation service when he is stressed he ‘self-medicates’ with alcohol.

The court was told it was believed Harrison’s alcoholism stemmed from the death of two close family members.

Harrison, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to drink driving. The court heard he had also lost his job as a result of his actions.

Magistrates sentencing guidelines state any driver who has more than 131 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath must been banned for 36 months. However, they can get this reduced by nine months by taking a drink-drive rehabilitation course.

Magistrates must also consider a custodial sentence, but they must take into account any aggravating or mitigating factors.

Factors indicating a higher culpability include carrying passengers, an unacceptable standard of driving, and poor weather conditions. Ones that indicate a greater degree of harm include being involved in a crash, driving near somewhere such as a school while drunk, and a high-level of traffic or pedestrians nearby.

Magistrates must also consider the mitigation of the defendant.

6 comments

  • @Terence Mannng - criminals living in someone elses house (rented accommodation) don't lose their house like a home owner would when they go to prison , they come back out and resume life living on benefits and living in someone elses rented house paid for by his benefits . An employed person has alot more to lose like his job and his house repossessed . So Rented accomodation to criminal doesn't deter him from committing crime as its not his , the employed man has that at risk too if he commits the crime - Hence the difference , my mind is not strange just experienced with criminals

    Report this comment

    Poppys Dad

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

  • poppys dad , what has rented accomodation got to do with being a criminal. you have got a strange mind.

    Report this comment

    TERENCE MANNING

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

  • I'm sorry but the sentencing for this case is quite frankly sickening, to believe that only 16 weeks is the punishment for having the highest ever drink drive reading in that court is preposterous!! So what if he was extremely lucky not to have caused a crash or killedinjured someone, the fact is he was more then capable of realising the amount he'd drunk AND was more then able and more likely to killinjury someone or crash! People like this do not need "light sentences" such as that of this 16 week one instead I believe it would be better to have harder sentences. How often do people hear of those banned from driving or repeating an offence of drink driving after being caught? Quite simply, they are let off too lightly compared to how grave the situation could have been. He should be punished for his sheer stupidity.

    Report this comment

    DC

    Thursday, December 19, 2013

  • With that reading, I am surprised he was still conscious, let alone driving. (I am sure some medically trained person could confirm that). I have seen cases over 120 but they could hardly stand or talk.Financially he only has to pay a total of £165 in costs- yes I know he has lost his job. Lost his licence for 3 years, not unusual - the norm for second offences anyhow. He apparently has an alcohol problem so what are the chances of him managing to complete 200 hours unpaid work? If ever there was a case for a deterrent jail sentence for drink driving, it was this one.

    Report this comment

    The original Victor Meldrew

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

  • The magistrates in this case are unbelievable and should be immediately removed from their posts. This is no deterrent whatsoever to anyone else considering drink driving. If I was to walk around the town with a loaded gun in my possession I would immediately be sentenced to at least 3 years and not suspended either. There is no difference here as once you get behind the wheel of a vehicle whilst under the influence of drink or drugs you are in possession of a very dangerous weapon. The fact that he says he has no previous convictions only means he has never been caught given that he admits to having an alcohol problem. The magistrates and judiciary have an obligation to protect the law abiding citizens of this country and not feel sorry for those who blatantly only care about them selves and have no regard for the safety of others. he has a 3 year ban but in 3 years he will be driving again and very probably drink driving again. These people should get a mandatory lengthy jail sentence and a lifetime ban from driving. We also need to take a leaf out of the book of some European Countries where they have a total zero tolerance to drink driving, it should be illegal to drive with any amount of alcohol in your blood, that way it is black & white.

    Report this comment

    IMP

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

  • Pathetic Punishment - Prison is the only punishment that will have an effect on this offence . Most people who do it are usually law abiding citizens , they would be stopped from doing it if the punishment was prison , unlike criminals with a number of previous convictions who couldn't care less whether they went to prison or not . These offenders have much more to lose by going to prison , like losing their jobs and homes . Normal criminals have rented accomodation and don't have jobs . Until a straight to prison punishment is put on this offence it will continue , the law enforcers have made no diffference to the numbers doing it . This will be proven by the number of people convicted over this Christmas period

    Report this comment

    Poppys Dad

    Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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