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Court / Sleep deprived drink driver banned and fined

A MAN who drove dangerously and at excessive speeds while sleep deprived and nearly three times the alcohol limit has been disqualified from driving.

John Leyden, of Browns Road, Lerwick, pleaded guilty to the charges at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old admitted driving dangerously while sleep deprived and under the influence of alcohol on 21 March on the A970 near to the Nesting junction.

His vehicle also had defective front tyres.

Leyden admitted driving onto the roadside verge and then into the opposing carriageway, before colliding with a roadside rock face which propelled his car back onto the road.

He also had 144 milligrammes of alcohol in 100ml of blood. The limit is 50 milligrammes.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said the incident happened at 1.10pm, with two oncoming vehicles present.

Mackenzie said Leyden leaned into the passenger side of the car – where a beer bottle was later found – before the car drifted onto the roadside verge.

He “overcorrected” the car, causing it to travel into the opposing carriageway. After then hitting the rock face the car returned to the middle of the road.

Other vehicles had to take evasive action before their drivers stopped and sought to help Leyden.

The driver was bleeding from the nose but was conscious and able to move.

Emergency services were called and Leyden was removed from the vehicle after his legs were freed from being tangled in a seatbelt.

“He was taken to hospital and the appropriate procedure was carried out at the hospital, and that would be at about half past three,” Mackenzie said.

“It would appear that he spent some considerable amount of time drinking the night before and effectively stayed up all night.”

The fiscal said it was fortunate there was not a more serious accident.

Defence agent Gregor Kelly said it was  “a catastrophic fall from grace” for Leyden, who works as a diver.

He said it was “entirely out of character”.

Kelly suggested stress relating to employment and the coronavirus crisis contributed to his behaviour.

The defence agent said Leyden consumed alcohol in his workplace and had intended to sleep there.

He added that Leyden suffered a dislocated shoulder and had fractured the top of his arm in the incident.

“He has had a great deal of opportunity for mature reflection since the 21 March,” Kelly said.

Sheriff Ian Cruickshank said it was “undoubtedly a very serious charge of dangerous driving”.

“It’s very fortuitous and by the grace of God there was no serious injury,” he added.

Leyden was disqualified from driving for a minimum of 12 months and fined a total of £1,600.