Suicide plan driver was over the limit twice

A businessman who drove off into the hills to kill himself after being arrested for excess alcohol got caught over the limit again after he started drinking and changed his mind, a court heard.


Martin Thomas Smith (41) had been almost four times the limit when he was found in his car in a lay-by in Clitheroe on March 2nd. Seven days later, he blew 81 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath - the legal limit is 35.

Smith, of Newton-in-Bowland, Clitheroe, who was said to have had financial problems, admitted two allegations of driving with excess alcohol. His case was adjourned until April 9th, for a pre-sentence report and the defendant was given an interim ban by a deputy district judge, who told him: “You must expect a custodial sentence.”

Prosecutor Andrew Robinson told Pennine Magistrates’ Court that at 11-40pm on March 2nd, police went to speak to Smith, who was in a lay-by in Trough Road, Dunsop Bridge, in his Nissan Navara. His breath smelled of alcohol and, although the engine was off, the defendant said he had driven there from the Inn at Whitewell. A breath test showed a reading of 136 micrograms. The second offence was committed on bail, on March 9th, in High Hill Lane, Settle.

Mark Davies (for Smith) said he was having financial issues over a property he owned in Darwen. The mortgage company had threatened repossession and there had been a meeting, hopefully to resolve that, on March 2nd. It did not and, afterwards, he drove round for a while, went to the Inn at Whitewell and drank quite a lot of alcohol.

The solicitor continued: ”He describes something snapping in his mind that day. He was effectively on auto pilot. He got in the car for what is a four-mile journey to where he lives. Part-way along that journey, he stopped in a lay-by with a view to calling his wife to pick him up, realising he shouldn’t be driving. A short time after that the police officer knocked on his window.”

Mr Davies said after the defendant was released from the cells on March 3rd, Smith decided he was going to kill himself and that was something he decided to do on March 9th. The lawyer said the defendant set off in his vehicle, without a drink and stood for five hours, outside the car, drinking and contemplating his position.

Mr Davies continued: ”Having done so, he decided not to kill himself. He called his wife, who was obviously distraught and called the police. Police went searching for him.

“He decided he was not going to kill himself and got back into his car, clearly not thinking straight. Police were able to find him very quickly, stopped him and found him again to be over the limit.”

The solicitor added: ”He has been to see his doctor, who has referred him to the mental health team.”