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Ban and fine after failing to provide breath samples

A MAN from Virkie who refused to provide breath samples to police who were investigating possible drink driving has been banned from the road for two years and fined £1,300.

Paul Manson, of Thistle Court, admitted at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday to failing, without reasonable excuse, to provide a preliminary breath test to a constable who had a reasonable expectation that he was under the influence of alcohol or another drug at the Hillhead car park in Lerwick on 5 May.

The 44 year old also pleaded guilty to failing to provide two breath specimens for analysis at Lerwick Police Station the following day.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie told Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday that a member of the public raised the alarm after spotting Manson getting into a car at around 11.15am.

They heard the engine start and contacted the police, who had their efforts to undertake a roadside screening test rebuffed.

Manson was arrested and taken to the nearby police station, but he “quite simply refused to provide any sample at all”.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said his client incorrectly thought he didn’t need to provide a sample if he had no intention to actually drive.

He said the road worker needed his licence for his employment, partly because he lives in the South Mainland and collects his colleagues in a work pickup.

The solicitor said the car involved in the offence, which had been bought at a price of £8,000, had been taken by police and could be forfeited.

Allan said that a £4,000 bank loan was used to pay for the vehicle, which was more regularly used by Manson’s partner for family purposes, meaning that his loved ones would in effect be punished if the car was taken.

Mackenzie, however, said the forfeiture of the vehicle would not represent a “disproportionate sacrifice” in relation to Manson’s financial situation.

He said there is “almost an element of attempting to pervert the course of justice” in failing to give samples as they are required by police, not simply requested.

The fiscal said that while “any sentence will impact on family”, the message needed to be made clear that there will be “serious consequences” if people fail to provide breath samples.

“This might be the most effective way of sending this out,” Mackenzie said.

Sheriff Philip Mann said he had forfeited cars in the past and was “prepared to do it again”, but decided against doing so as it would have a “disproportionate effect” on Manson’s family.

His two year ban may be reduced by a quarter if he completes a drink-driving rehab course.

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