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Sheriff worried by drink driving levels

SHERIFF Graeme Napier warned drivers in Shetland that if they are caught behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol they could face jail, after dealing with a spate of such offences in Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday.

Marina Sinclair, of 4 Toabsgeo, Virkie, could be sent to prison after crashing into an oncoming car on Christmas Eve last year having drunk a whole bottle of vodka.

The 55 year old admitted driving dangerously and being more than twice the legal limit when she drove at excessive speed on the main A970 road between Dunrossness and Sumburgh around 8.30pm on 24 December.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said the weather was poor, the road was covered in snow and she was unable to control her car.

“She told police she had been up all night and had consumed as much as a bottle of vodka and expressed the desire to go to prison,” Mr Mackenzie said. “She is clearly someone with a severe alcohol problem if not dependency.”

Sheriff Napier deferred sentence for reports, but said that custody was at the forefront of his mind as she had a previous conviction for drink driving from four years ago.

Scott McCulloch, of Flat 3, 2 Mill Lane, Lerwick, was also warned he could face jail after pleading guilty to drink driving in a works van around north Lerwick on 24 April while three and a half times the legal limit.

The court heard that the 37 year old scaffolder, who has four childen, had been convicted of drink driving 18 months ago and only received his licence back last August. Sentence was deferred for reports, after the sheriff said McCulloch was “a significant danger to the public”.

Another warning was handed to 67 year old crofter John Wishart, of Kirkabister, Brettabister, North Nesting, who was almost three times the limit when he was arrested at his home on 16 April.

Wishart admitted drink driving at Skellister and refusing to be breathalysed, but defence agent Tommy Allan said that he had set up a series of alcohol counselling sessions since his arrest.

The court heard that he had alarmed folk at the Nesting shop when he purchased a bottle of whisky and drove off in his car though he was unsteady on his feet.

Mr Allan said Wishart had been up all night with the lambing, but accepted that he had “a major problem with alcohol”.

Sheriff Napier said that as he had a previous conviction for drink driving it was quite possible he too could go to jail, but deferred sentence for reports until 1 June, when he will also decide whether to forfeit Wishart’s £4,600 car.

Disqualifying all three for the time being, Sheriff Napier said: “I thought the message was getting through to the citizens of Shetland that you can’t get behind the wheel of a car while under the influence of alcohol. That message clearly has not got across and when that happens the message has to be made by example.”

Three other first time drink drivers appeared in court on Wednesday. Chef Jason Webb, aged 39, of 7 Grindibrek, Skeld, admitted being just over the limit while driving on King Harald Street on 18 December last year after accepting too much hospitality while delivering Christmas presents to friends. He was fined £500 and banned from driving for 12 months.

Retired businessman Laurence Dalziel, aged 62, of Windy Knowe, Shurton Brae, was fined £700 and banned for two years after pleading guilty to being two and a half times the limit after crashing his car in the snow on the B9074 Tingwall to Scalloway road mid morning on 23 December last year.

And 41 year old Irish construction worker Tomas Smith, lodging at Hillside House, Scalloway, admitted being one and a half times the limit on the same road on 21 August last year. The father of six was fined £900 and banned for 15 months.