Woodbridge: Soldier crashed his car after drinking nine pints and eight double vodkas

A SOLDIER has been banned from driving after drinking nine pints of beer and eight double vodkas before crashing in to two parked cars.

South East Suffolk Magistrates Court heard Jeffrey Buchanan had been on a drinking binge to celebrate his birthday and could not remember anything about crashing his car when he woke up in a police cell the next day.

The 27-year-old, of Rock Barracks, Sutton Heath, near Woodbridge, pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to being more than three times the drink-drive limit at the time of the crash.

At Buchanan’s sentencing prosecutor Wayne Ablitt told the court police were called just before midnight on September 8 after reports of a car colliding with two stationary vehicles in St John’s Street, Woodbridge.

When officers arrived they found the soldier standing in the middle of the road next to his Seat Leon.

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Mr Ablitt said Buchanan told police he had driven to Woodbridge from his barracks early in the afternoon before consuming nine beers followed by eight double vodka and cokes while visiting two pubs.

On a scale of drunkenness from one to ten, Buchanan estimated he was at five.

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A breath test showed Buchanan had 120 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 mcgs.

The court heard Buchanan had originally intended to get a taxi home after leaving The Angel public house but there were no taxis available.

Mr Ablitt said this left the soldier in a dilemma as to how to get back to Rock Barracks so he decided to drive, but had a memory blackout as to what had happened afterwards.

Speaking on Buchanan’s behalf, his senior officer Captain Scott told the court Buchanan had been with 3 Troop 9 Parachute Squadron for three years, and was a qualified carpenter and joiner.

Captain Scott added that he was a “hard-working and dedicated soldier” who had toured Afghanistan for six months, and that the incident was out of character.

A probation officer who interviewed Buchanan for a pre-sentence report said he could not recall getting into his car or the collisions. All he remembered was waking up in the morning, not realising he was in a police cell.

Buchanan – who plays rugby for Woodbridge and his squadron - was said to have been devastated by what he had done.

Before the incident he had been entitled to seek promotion, but because of his conviction the court heard that he could not now be considered for three years.

District Judge Celia Dawson disqualified Buchanan for driving for 36 months and ordered him to abide by a three-month curfew on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from 8pm to 6am. He was also ordered to pay �85 costs.

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