Drink driver escapes jail term

A PERSISTENT drink driver who claimed he drove under the under the influence because he thought his son was choking has been spared prison. Alexander Heaton, of Ipswich Road, Colchester, had been warned he could be jailed after his third drink-drive offence in less than four years.

A PERSISTENT drink driver who claimed he drove under the under the influence because he thought his son was choking has been spared prison.

Alexander Heaton, of Ipswich Road, Colchester, had been warned he could be jailed after his third drink-drive offence in less than four years.

Heaton, 32, pleaded guilty last month to drink-diving, driving while disqualified and driving without insurance but sentencing was adjourned until yesterday.

Colchester Magistrates' Court heard Heaton was breathalysed by police after a collision on the A12, near Feering, at about 10.30pm on March 11 and gave a reading of 63 microgrammes in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35mg.

Christian Miekle, prosecuting, said Heaton was banned from driving at the time of the accident.

The court heard the former soldier had been banned for three years for drink driving in September 2004 and also served an 18-month penalty for a similar offence in April 2001.

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In mitigation Heaton's lawyer, David Howells, said Heaton believed there was an emergency situation in Colchester when he started driving back from Heathrow Airport where he was working as an electrician.

"His wife told him there had been told there was a problem with his son who seemed to be choking and asked him to get back immediately," he said.

Mr Howells said Heaton had admitted a drink problem and was a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Pauline Stapleton, chairman of the bench, warned Heaton he would be jailed if he was to offend again.

"Be under no illusion, next time magistrates will be sending you to prison if you drive again while you have had alcohol and obviously if you drive again whilst you are disqualified," she said.

Heaton was placed on probation for 18 months where he will undertake a compulsory course for drink-drivers and will serve 80 hours community service.

He was also banned from driving for four years, although that could be reduced to three if he successfully completes another, voluntary, course for drink drivers and ordered to pay £70 costs

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