A public-spirited motorist possibly prevented someone being killed when he stopped and blocked in a drunk driver and took her off the road, a court was told.
Simon Morville took immediate action when he was behind a Ford Fiesta driven by Burnley businesswoman Janet Tomlinson which he later told police was swerving all over the road and almost smashing head-on into traffic, Burnley magistrates heard.
The hearing was told Mr Morville, who had been flashing his lights to try and bring Tomlinson to a halt, had pulled alongside her at a single track bridge to stop her moving off. He then drove her in her own car to her home, where police were in the area looking for her and she was arrested.
Tomlinson (49) who owns The Dolphin Sandwich Shop on Oxford Road, Burnley, was later found to be almost three times the legal limit. She had been drinking champagne at a wedding at the Higher Trapp Country House Hotel in Simonstone, but left after a row. A concerned staff member had alerted police to the defendant, who he said, was so drunk she had been unable to walk and had fallen trying to climb the stairs out of the premises.
The court heard when an officer got in Tomlinson’s vehicle with her and told her she was being detained, she replied: ”Yes, I know I’m over, but you aren’t going to arrest me, are you?” The defendant blew 103 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath at the police station - the legal limit is 35.
Mother-of-two Tomlinson, of Bronte Avenue, admitted driving with excess alcohol on Barden Lane, Burnley, on Friday, April 8th. The defendant, who had no previous convictions, was given a 12 month community order, with a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement. She was ordered to pay a £150 fine, £85 costs and an £85 victim surcharge and was banned for 25 months.
Prosecutor Tracy Yates said just before 9pm, the hotel staff member called the police, saying he was concerned that a customer who had been drinking to such an extent she couldn’t walk, had driven off. He gave the car registration details.
Mrs Yates said Mr Morville was driving to collect his partner. He was behind a Fiesta going down Greenhead Lane, Burnley. Mrs Yates said: ”He was immediately concerned regarding the driving. The car was being driven erratically, all over the road, regularly veering into the side of the road and nearly causing collisions with oncoming traffic.
“He flashed his lights to try and stop it, but it only stopped when it approached another vehicle on a single track bridge on Barden Lane.”
The prosecutor said Mr Morville pulled alongside the Fiesta in an attempt to prevent the driver from continuing, and when he spoke to her quickly ascertained she was drunk. He persuaded her to let him drive her home in her vehicle and left his own car on Barden Lane.
Mrs Yates said as a result of the information from the hotel worker, police had gone to the Bronte Avenue area, looking for Tomlinson’s car. They saw Mr Morville drive onto a back street with the defendant as passenger. An officer spoke with him, got in the back seat with Tomlinson and due to her demeanour, she was told she was being arrested.
The prosecutor said when interviewed, Tomlinson said she had drunk around six glasses of wine and a couple of glasses of Bucks Fizz at the wedding. She said she had had an argument, decided she wanted to go home and took up the motorist’s offer of a lift when she was flashed by his vehicle and pulled over. Mrs Yates said:” She fully admitted she currently has an issue with alcohol and does need help with it.”
The prosecutor said Mr Morville told police if he had not seen the defendant and she had carried on driving, he believed she would have caused an accident and could have killed or seriously injured somebody. He said:”I felt sorry for her but know that her being arrested is the right thing.”
Ben Leech, in mitigation, said Tomlinson felt shame and regret. She had had a number of glasses of champagne at the Higher Trapp, where she had been planning to stay the night. She was there with her partner.
He said:”There are problems. She bottles up her problems and brings up issues within the relationship and within the home when she has had Dutch courage.”
The solicitor said the couple rowed which led to “an irrational, stupid decision to get in the car and drive it home.”
He told the court: “She accepts there are other decisions that could have been made- to take a taxi, call a friend, anything other than the one she made.
”She doesn’t accept there were near misses with other vehicles or her driving was so erratic that there had been near head-on collisions
”She is not alcohol dependent. She doesn’t drink every day, but when she does drink, she recognises she drinks far too much. She recently suffered the deaths of her father and a close friend. That led to using drink as a crutch, to help her through a difficult time.”
Bench chairman Graham Jagger told the defendant:“It was a very serious matter. It could have led to something incredibly serious.”