"Drunk" hair salon boss had to be rescued from irate victims after leaving a trail of destruction, court told

A hair salon owner was given a 12-month community order, with a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement and 40 hours unpaid work when she appeared before Burnley magistrates.
A hair salon owner was given a 12-month community order, with a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement and 40 hours unpaid work when she appeared before Burnley magistrates.
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A "drunk" Burnley hair salon boss, who crashed her BMW at a petrol station, left such a trail of destruction a stranger had to rescue her from irate victims, a court heard.

The member of the public had taken Sonia Gill's car keys from her so she couldn't drive away, but ended up letting her take refuge in his car as a " place of safety."

Burnley magistrates were told the 47-year-old didn't give a breath test after the incident at Tesco Fuel Station in the town, on Sunday, June 17th.

The one-time owner of a chain of shops was said to have been downing up to a bottle of wine a day before the incident, but was so shocked by what she had done, she has not touched a drop since.

Mr Carl Gaffney, prosecuting, told the court: " Clearly, she's drunk and she's driven."

He said Gill went onto the service station forecourt and collided with a vehicle. She then drove off and hit a neighbour's wall, "leaving destruction in her wake."

The prosecutor continued:"She is also being pursued by those she has done damage to.

"A member of the public has the good sense to wedge her in, slowly, to prevent her from driving on any further.

"I think it's at that point where she comes, to some extent, to her senses.

"When this gentleman approaches her and asks politely for the keys so she can't drive off, she complies with that request immediately."

Mr Gaffney added: " We can't see what the level of alcohol is as she did not provide a specimen of breath.

"We can certainly see what the level of damage is."

The defendant had no previous convictions.

Probation officer Elliot Smith, who interviewed Gill, said in 2013, she owned five salons with her husband, but they had broken up and it seemed her alcohol issue probably started around that time. She now has one salon in her name and that was not really making any money.

The defendant had sought help with alcohol treatment service Inspire in February and had not had a drink since the offences.

Mr Smith said:" She is obviously worried about what could happen to her today.

"She has done very well in her life and finds it very difficult to go to Inspire."

Gill's solicitor, Mr Daniel Frazer said Gill had gone from being a successful businesswoman to not having her children with her, having no income and struggling. The solicitor went on: " She has one salon left and tells me they are considering making people unemployed because they are not making the money they used to."

Mr Frazer said the defendant had been drinking too much and made a very poor decision to go out and drive.

He said: " She is remorseful for her actions. She knows what potentially could have happened and she's fully aware of that.

"That has shocked her."

Gill, of Rosehill Road, Burnley, admitted failing to provide a specimen of breath, driving without due care and attention at the petrol station on Finsley Gate and failing to stop after an accident.

She was given a 12-month community order, with a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement and 40 hours unpaid work. Gill was told to pay £85 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.

The defendant was also banned from driving for two years.