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Camper van driver with history of drink-driving refuses breath test

PUBLISHED: 05:30 26 April 2019 | UPDATED: 06:52 26 April 2019

Thomas Bowers provided a sample of breath at the roadside but failed to provide an evidential sample at the police station  Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Thomas Bowers provided a sample of breath at the roadside but failed to provide an evidential sample at the police station Picture: RACHEL EDGE

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A Suffolk boat builder committed his fourth alcohol related driving offence by claiming asthma prevented him from providing a breath test - despite already having failed one at the roadside.

A police officer stopped Thomas Bowers for speeding in Wherstead Road, Ipswich, after first spotting the 41-year-old's camper van pull into the path of another vehicle, but avoid a collision, in the town centre at 10.10pm on April 11.

After recognising the pungent smell of cannabis coming from the van, the officer watched Bowers climb from the driver's seat, lock the door and start walking away.

Bowers, who was caught by another officer after breaking into a jog, tested positive for cannabis at the roadside and gave an alcohol breath test reading in excess of the legal limit.

When a small amount of cannabis was also discovered under the passenger seat of the van, Bowers was arrested and taken to Martlesham Heath police investigation centre, where he provided a written statement saying he suffered from stress-activated asthma and would be incapable of providing an evidential breath sample.

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At Suffolk Magistrates' Court this week, the Sudbury boat builder admitted drug possession, failing to provide a specimen for analysis and failing to co-operate with a preliminary test.

The court heard that Bowers, of Wyatts Lane, Little Cornard, received eight penalty points for being in excess of the limit while in charge of a vehicle last year, was banned for 18 months for drink-driving in 2014, and also had an excess alcohol conviction dating back to 1997.

Solicitor Michael Whatley explained that Bowers had been working on a boat building site in Ipswich and consumed a few bottles of beer with a meal in his camper van before being informed he could not remain parked overnight.

“He was put in the rather difficult position of having to find somewhere to park and sleep for the night,” said Mr Whatley.

“He refused the breath test because, it's fair to say, he does suffer from asthma, but he accepts giving a breath sample at the scene, so it's fairly difficult to justify not giving one at the police station.”

Bowers was banned from driving for 36 months, handed a 12-month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work, and fined £150 for cannabis possession.

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