Alcoholic Simon Maddison from Jesmond
AN alcoholic caught driving at more than five times the legal limit has been spared jail.
Magistrates declined to lock up Simon Maddison, who was caught behind the wheel of his car having downed a potentially deadly amount of booze.
The 45-year-old was caught by police when he drove along Chillingham Road, in Heaton, Newcastle, in the early hours of the morning without headlights on.
And when unemployed Maddison was pulled over, he told officers: “It’s about time I got caught, I’ve been drinking a load of vodka.”
He was arrested and taken to a nearby police station, where he gave a reading of 176 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath, the legal limit being 35 micrograms.
Alcoholic Maddison, of Reid Park Road, Jesmond, Newcastle, narrowly avoided prison after he pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court. Instead he was given a four-month jail term, suspended for 12 months and was banned from the roads for three years.
The sentence has sparked outrage amongst anti-drink drive campaigners and road safety charities.
Chairing magistrate Sue Sinton said she was shocked by the reading. She said: “We’re dealing with a matter today, which arises from an incident on December 10, 2012, when you were found to be driving with excess alcohol.
“The reading was 176 micrograms, one of the highest readings we have had in this court, if not the highest. In fact, it’s off the scale. We believe it’s so serious that custody is justified.
“The only reason we’re not activating a custodial sentence today is because we believe our job is to protect the public and sending you to prison isn’t the way to do it. We believe you need help with your alcohol problems.”
Maddison was stopped by police at around 12.45am when they spotted him driving without headlights on Chillingham Road, Heaton, before struggling to drive around a roundabout at Shields Road, Byker. He was pulled over outside the Shell Garage, where officers immediately saw he was drunk.
Rebecca Laverick, prosecuting, said: “The officer immediately smelled alcohol and the defendant told them ‘It’s about time I got caught, I’ve been drinking a load of vodka’.”
Jonathan Cousins, defending, told the court Maddison had a deep-rooted and long-running problem with alcohol.
He said: “It’s a very, very high reading, there’s no doubt about that. He has an entrenched alcohol problem for a number of years and he has in the past taken many steps to address it.
“Apart from his alcohol problem, he is an intelligent man. Hopefully, he can be given access to the right treatment and make progress.”
Franki Hackett, campaigns officer at road safety charity Brake, said: “Drink driving is incredibly dangerous, so it’s appalling that lenient sentences are being given out to people who risk lives on the roads.
“Even one drink impairs driving ability significantly, but being five times over the drink drive limit makes crashing very likely.”