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Camelford drink driver returned to crashed car for a swig of wine

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: October 19, 2013

CRASH SCENE: McLaughlin's car, to which he returned for another drink after the accident.

A MOTORIST who crashed into a hedge when he was more than three times the alcohol limit – then returned to his car to take another drink – has been handed a suspended prison sentence and a five-year driving ban.

It was Linden McLaughlin's third drink-related driving offence in ten years and magistrates told him he would have gone straight to prison had he not pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

He had driven in a way which was "extremely bad and potentially dangerous", said Simon Smeardon, chairman of the bench at Bodmin Magistrates' Court.

McLaughin, aged 35, of Chapel Street, Camelford, appeared for sentencing on Friday after admitting the drink-driving charge as well as two offences of stealing alcohol and food.

On September 5 McLaughlin, at the wheel of a Chrysler Grand Voyager, lost control as he overtook stationary traffic at the junction of the A39 with the B3266 at Valley Truckle outside Camelford.

Graham Calderwood, for the prosecution, said another motorist had seen the Voyager "on two wheels" on the wrong side of the road before it hit a hedge. McLaughlin was seen to leave the vehicle before returning briefly to take swigs out of the foil bag from a wine box, which was in the car, and then "staggered into town".

A garage-owner raised the alarm and police arrived. McLaughlin failed a roadside breath test and at the police station a sample showed 128 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, the limit being 35mcg.

A few days later, on September 11, he stole from the Co-op in High Street, Callington, twice in one day, taking a bottle of Smirnoff vodka and cold meat on the first occasion and a further bottle of vodka and two sandwiches on the second.

David Harvey, for the defence, told the magistrates McLaughlin suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and urged them to give him a chance to address his alcohol problem with community-based treatment.

"What he needs is help as well as punishment," said Mr Harvey. McLaughlin, a father of four, had been alcohol-free around 2009 but had recently "fallen off the wagon big-style". His estranged partner was in court to support him as she knew how vulnerable and ill he was.

Sending him to prison would "do more harm than good" because he would not have alcohol treatment support on release. He had shown "obvious remorse".

After considering a pre-sentence report, the magistrates imposed a 120-day prison sentence, suspended for 20 months, with 18 months' supervision and a six-month alcohol treatment requirement as well as a curfew for eight weeks from 7pm to 7am daily. He was ordered to pay £85 in costs, an £80 victim surcharge and £34.86 compensation.

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