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Bus driver was more than twice over drink-drive limit

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A BUS driver who was two-and -a-half times the drink-drive limit while on duty was jailed for two months.

Bus driver Graham Lawrence, 64, who was two-and -a-half times the drink-drive limit while on duty was jailed for two months. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 22528533)

The Magistrate’s Court was told that Graham Lawrence, 64, of 1, Sycamore Clos, Collings Road, St Peter Port, had driven four different routes for CT Plus during a 12-hour shift prior to his arrest just after 7pm.

Crown Advocate Chris Dunford told the court how the defendant had started work at 6.30am.

CCTV recovered from the vehicle showed him drinking from a flask and various other plastic bottles. A work colleague became suspicious when he heard a loud, aggressive and threatening message coming from the defendant over the radio network.

The defendant returned to the depot at about 6.50pm. His breath smelled of alcohol and words were exchanged between him and a work colleague.

Police were called at 7.05pm when the defendant appeared to be about to ride his scooter home. The scooter was parked between two boulders on a wide section of pavement on the opposite side of the road to Carey House, Les Banques, St Peter Port.

When officers arrived Lawrence was sat on the machine, which had the engine running, and was wearing his crash helmet and gloves. He was seen to rock the machine from its stand.

At 7.12pm, he failed a roadside breath test and told officers he had drunk alcohol just a couple of minutes before.

He was arrested on suspicion of attempting to ride the scooter whilst over the drink-drive limit.

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A test at the Police Station identified 89 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of his breath when the legal limit is 35. A green plastic bottle that appeared to contain beer residue was found in the scooter and the defendant said he had been drinking from it.

Drink containers that smelled of alcohol and which matched those that were seen on CCTV from the bus were discovered on him while he was in custody.

At that point he was arrested on suspicion of driving the bus whilst over the drink-drive limit.

In interview he said he had drunk a pint and half of beer between leaving the depot and getting on his scooter. He said he was testing the scooter and had not necessarily planned to ride it. He intended to return to the deport and settle his differences with the controller over the earlier radio message. The night before he had drunk three pints of beer and three and half pints of cider, the last at 10pm, and said that must have put him over the drink-drive limit. At about 4.30pm that day he had walked from the bus terminus to the off-licence near The Ship and Crown and bought four cans of lager. He must have knocked one on the way as by the time he got back to the bus terminus for his next journey he could hear fizzing. At that point he had decanted the beer into the other containers that he had on him.

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Lawrence admitted drink-driving the bus and attempting to ride the scooter whilst over the drink-drive limit.

Advocate Samuel Steel said the legal assumption was that his client had driven the bus while his breath reading was 89 and he did not seek to persuade the court otherwise.

Nobody had been injured, there had been no accidents, and no complainants about his client’s driving.

Judge Graeme McKerrell said somebody had been concerned about the defendant’s behaviour. Advocate Steel said that only related to words.

His client had been suspended following this incident and his employment related housing licence would now be revoked. He had been in Guernsey since 2009 and he would now have to leave. He was concerned it would destroy his relationship with his partner and he was trying to make changes as he recognised that alcohol was a problem for him.

Judge McKerrell said he found the defendant’s story about decanting the alcohol absolutely ludicrous and a vain attempt to conceal the problem he clearly had.

The alcohol had been in squash bottles to conceal what the defendant had been drinking as he drove.

‘I would be amazed if this was an isolated incident but I will only sentence on what is before me,’ he said.

‘You were in charge of a public service vehicle and passengers were put at risk.’

Lawrence was jailed for two months for the bus offence with one month, concurrent, for attempting to ride the scooter. He was banned from driving for three years, concurrent, on both.

Nigel Baudains

By Nigel Baudains
News reporter

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