Police officer admits drink-driving

A POLICE sergeant who admitted drink driving was not supported through the various traumas he has experienced as an officer, it has been claimed.Ipswich-based sergeant Michael Smith was yesterday banned from the road for 20 months after admitting a charge of driving with excess alcohol.

A POLICE sergeant who admitted drink driving was not supported through the various traumas he has experienced as an officer, it has been claimed.

Ipswich-based sergeant Michael Smith was yesterday banned from the road for 20 months after admitting a charge of driving with excess alcohol.

The 41-year-old, who gave his address in court as Stone Road, Colchester, was also handed a £300 fine and ordered to pay £35 costs during a hearing at magistrates in Ipswich.

Smith was stopped in Robin Drive in the town after being spotted speeding in a Volkswagen Passat along Handford Road and London Road.


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He failed to complete a breath test when initially stopped, at 8am on Saturday, and was taken to Ipswich Police Station, where he was given a further test, at 11.20am.

His lowest reading was 77 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 mcgs.

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The arresting officer reported Smith smelt of alcohol and was slurring his words at the time he was stopped.

Helen Booth, prosecuting, told the court the father-of-one had been drinking in Ipswich last Friday night and into Saturday morning.

Smith, a customer service sergeant based at the town's police station, had finished work at about 4pm.

Catharine Flood, mitigating for Smith, told the court her client had been an officer with the Metropolitan Police until 1999, where there was a macho culture that downplayed traumatic incidents.

Ms Flood said her client had received two commendations since joining the police in 1981.

A report produced for the court said a serious crash in April last year left Smith only able to fulfil restrictive duties, leaving him frustrated.

He still needs medical attention and was said to be on medication for depression.

The off-duty crash was said to have been the major trigger for Smith's problems, although other disturbing experiences during his police career also had an affect.

These included having to wait and see whether he had contracted a deadly disease from a suspect. He had also been injured in the course of his duty, seen a colleague seriously hurt and had a gun fired at him during an armed robbery - the bullet from which hit a member of the public in the head.

Ms Flood said shortly after Smith began working in Suffolk, he was diagnosed with having post traumatic distress disorder.

When his motorcycle was in collision with a car last April, it led to him having extensive injuries, including having his right arm rebuilt with titanium.

Ms Flood said Smith was expected to deal such incidents he had encountered in his job with “no support at all”.

She added his frustrations led to him drinking last Friday, but he had made attempts to ensure he was sober by the time he drove, including sleeping for a few hours. It is not known where he had spent the night.

She added his guilty plea meant he could now be sacked, demoted or have his pension reduced. He could even lose his family home.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police confirmed disciplinary proceedings were now under way and refused to comment further until these were complete.

Smith also declined to comment outside court.

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