"Steaming" Burnley man failed to give breath test after police alerted by concerned Tesco Express staff

A classic car restorer caught drink-driving was bailed and failed to give police a breath test three weeks later, a court heard.

Wednesday, 31st July 2019, 3:40 pm
Updated Wednesday, 31st July 2019, 4:40 pm
Burnley Magistrates Court.
Burnley Magistrates Court.

Paul Railton was obstructive and kept demanding to know why officers were there when they turned up at the home in Burnley he shared with his mother. They had been alerted by staff at Tesco Express on Casterton Avenue, where he had bought a bottle of wine and was said to be “steaming.” He had then driven off.

The town’s magistrates were told how Railton, who was banned for 22 months for drink-driving in February 2017, minimised his alcohol consumption. The 48-year-old, who takes medication for mental health difficulties, had turned to alcohol to escape from his problems after his wife left him four years ago.

Mrs Tracy Yates, prosecuting, said on June 25th the defendant was arrested when he was seen driving a van in Nelson. He was stopped as the vehicle was showing as having no MOT. He blew 41 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath at the police station. The legal limit is 35.

The defendant was bailed and, on July 14th, police were called to the Tesco Express, where a staff member had told a colleague: "I hope that man’s not going to drive. He’s steaming."

Mrs Yates said CCTV showed Railton buying the wine and driving away. Officers went to his home where his vehicle was outside. The bonnet was warm. He was taken to the police station where he at first said he would provide a breath test.

Mr Dylan Bradshaw, defending Railton, told the hearing his problems started four years ago when his marriage broke down. He suffered a number of reactions, including loss of self-esteem and confidence, and started drinking.

The solicitor, who urged the Bench to impose a community order, told them: "He’s well aware custody is very much a possibility. This has been a wake-up call. He’s very nervous in court today and he’s very anxious and fearful of the consequences."

Mr Bradshaw added: "He accepts he was obstructive [when police went to his home], but he did suffer quite significant injuries as a result of the arrest.”

A probation officer who interviewed the defendant, said [of the failure to provide offence] that Railton had been out with friends, had had a couple of drinks, and called for a bottle of wine on the way home.

"He denies he was drunk. He said he had two bottles of lager," the officer said. "He thought he would be okay to drive. When police came to the house he was quite surprised. It would seem the police were quite aggressive. As he struggles with anxiety, he began to panic. That’s why he refused to provide a sample. He was having a panic attack. He felt he hadn’t done anything wrong.

"He showed little insight into the drink-drive offence," they added. "He minimised his alcohol consumption in terms of that offence as well. More exploration needs to be done in terms of his alcohol misuse.”

Railton, of Carholme Avenue in Burnley, admitted driving with excess alcohol on Larch Street in Nelson and failing to provide a specimen. He was given a 12-month community order with a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement and 120 hours unpaid work. The defendant was banned for 38 months and must pay £85 costs and a £90 victim surcharge.