Police heard drink driver coming through thunderstorm

Burnley Magistrates Court
Burnley Magistrates Court
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A four-times-the-limit drink driver behind the wheel as a violent storm plunged Pendle into darkness was caught after police heard her coming, a court heard.

Yvonne Nora Walker (47) had a flat tyre, was travelling on the wheel rim and a police officer heard the loud scraping, even above the thunder and lightning during the torrential downpour of September 13th.

Burnley magistrates were told how Walker pulled up in her Peugeot 207 at an awkward angle in a disabled parking bay at Colne Asda, just after 8pm. She smelled of drink, was slurring her words and was “clearly drunk”.

Walker, who has mental health problems for which she is set to receive help, blew 152 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath at the roadside. The legal limit is 35. She then gave a sample showing 135 micrograms at the police station.

The defendant had written a letter to the bench, explaining the difficulties she had been going through at the time and details of her medication.

The court heard after her arrest, Walker, who is currently off sick from her job in Clitheroe due to long-term depression and anxiety, spent a week in hospital as she had not been eating for several months.

She had suffered significant weight loss and health problems and had to use a walking frame on her release. She is currently attending Alcoholics Anonymous.

Probation officer Nick Powell told the court the defendant, whom he said, had disclosed at least two suicide attempts, had a pattern of drinking which had occurred over a number of years.

He added: “At other times she doesn’t drink. It’s intrinsically linked to her mood and loneliness. It appears if the depression can be tackled the alcohol almost disappears.”

Walker, of Clifford Street, Colne, admitted driving with excess alcohol on Corporation Street, Colne.

She was given nine weeks in prison, suspended for a year, was banned for 30 months and must pay £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

John Rusius (defending) told the hearing Walker had driven a short distance. She got a flat tyre, didn’t want to leave the vehicle and so drove it off the road onto the Asda car park. She fully co-operated with police.

Walker had been severely depressed, her elderly mother had been going through a tough time in South Wales and she felt unable to help her.

Mr Rusius said: “There has been a period of particular instability.

“She has not been working, she has not been driving and had not been going out of the house for quite some period of months. This was just a one-off situation when everything got on top of her.

“She is deeply sorry for what she has done and very embarrassed. She is herself seeking assistance for her problems.”