Drink-driver banned after icy police chase

A MAN has been banned from driving for three years for failing to provide a sample of breath for police after being stopped for drink-driving.

David Foulis, of Dunstan Hill Farm Cottages, near Embleton, appeared at Berwick Magistrates’ Court for sentence last week.

Foulis, 44, had pleaded guilty to failing to provide a sample of breath for analysis, driving without due care and attention, driving without insurance and failing to stop for police.

The court heard how a member of the public alerted police to a motorist driving erratically on the A1 northbound near Adderstone at around 5.30pm on December 6.

Officers caught up with the Suzuki Vitara 10 miles further north, where they saw him driving at 20mph and straddling both carriageways.

Prosecutor Jonathan Moore said the police officer switched on the blue lights and flashed his headlights, but the driver of the Suzuki failed to stop.

Mr Moore said that road conditions at the time were poor, with the roadside covered with snow and ice.

He said the defendant drove as slowly as 5mph at points, before turning off onto the B6525 Wooler road, where he was followed by police.

Foulis was followed along the road until Ancroft, where the police officer was told to stop trying to pull over the vehicle because of the dangerous road conditions.

Mr Moore said that Foulis then turned off into Lowick, with the police car following at a safe distance.

The officer lost sight of the Suzuki when it went round a corner near West Kyloe, and when the officer turned the corner he found it pointing across the road, having crashed into a snowdrift on the verge.

The court heard that when the officer approached Foulis he could smell alcohol on the defendant’s breath and that he was ‘hysterical’, and was shouting ‘mum, mum’.

After refusing to supply a roadside breath test, Foulis was arrested and taken to a police station in Newcastle, where he refused to provide a sample.

Ian O’Rourke, defending, said that his client had separated from his wife prior to the incident and had gone back to using heroin.

However, the pair reconciled and Mr O’Rourke said Foulis had gone ‘cold turkey,’ but turned to drinking heavily to counteract his withdrawal symptoms.

He added that the defendant experienced sleeplessness, confusion and hallucinations because of the withdrawal symptoms and was ‘clearly in a very agitated state’ when the police arrived on the scene of the crash.

Mr O’Rourke said that although it was a ‘very low speed police chase’, it was still a very dangerous situation.

He added that Foulis had not deliberately failed to co-operate with police but only because he was drunk and was suffering from the heroin withdrawal symptoms.

Foulis was given an 18-month community order with a supervision requirement through the probation service, with ancillary orders for him to engage in work to address his drug and alcohol use with the community substance misuse team, liase with children’s services, and engage with the community mental health team.

He was banned from driving for three years for failing to provide a sample of breath, with no separate penalty for the other offences.

He was also ordered to pay £85 costs.