Drink-driver was speeding to rescue girlfriend

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court
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A man who was caught driving while more than double the alcohol limit said he did so because he was on a mercy dash to save his girlfriend.

Gareth Winstanley told arresting officers that he was rushing to his partner’s house because it was under attack with people outside raining blows down on the door and shouting threats.

Officers discovered he had 79 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath after he was stopped shortly after midnight on Monday July 3.

They had flagged down the 30-year-old after spotting his Nissan Qashqai speeding and driving erratically along Wigan Road in Leigh.

After stopping the vehicle, police noted that the driver smelled strongly of alcohol and that his speech was slurred.

A positive breath test by the side of the road was quickly followed by a licence plate check, which revealed the motorist in front of them was also disqualified from driving.

Winstanley, of no fixed address, told justices at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court that he received a text from his partner, saying people were banging on the door and threatening her so he made the decision to drive to the house to help her.

His solicitor Jonathan Conder said his client had made a rash decision and fully regretted his actions.

He said: “He had been at a friend’s house and had drunk a lot when he got a text from his partner.

“Without thinking a great deal, he got behind the wheel to go to her, knowing full well he was disqualified.

“He should not have done so.”

Mr Conder added: “He is terrified of the outcome of this case, and is extremely remorseful for what he has done.”

A member of the probation service told the bench: “He was completely focused on going to the aid of his partner, and wasn’t thinking clearly.

“He tells me he knows he should have told her to call the police instead.”

Winstanley was sentenced to 12 weeks in custody, which was suspended for 12 months.

He was also ordered to undertake a six-month alcohol treatment programme and a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

Winstanley was also disqualified for a further three and a half years for what justices called “a flagrant disregard for a court order.”