Driver, 68, steadied his nerves with gulps of vodka

A 68-YEAR-OLD former Ministry of Defence contract worker who had ‘‘nerve-steadying gulps of vodka’’ before a stressful get-together with a woman was banned from driving by a court last Thursday after admitting drink-driving.

Harrogate magistrates heard how Roger Booth Hainsworth’s blue Jaguar X-type bumped into a Renault Clio as he parked in Ripon’s St Marygate car park on May 6 to go for a lunch meeting.

When he entered his plea, on the eighth occasion on which the case had been listed, the Crown Prosecution Service dropped allegations of careless driving, failing to stop after an accident and failing to report the incident.

Prosecutor Steven Ovenden said Hainsworth, of Greenacres, Morton-on-Swale, near Northallerton, had originally blown 135 micrograms, almost four times the limit, but after both the Crown and the defence had sought the help of experts over ‘‘back calculations’’ – assessing the level of alcohol before drink was consumed after the collision – the Crown was prepared to proceed on the basis of a breath alcohol level of 51 micrograms.

The court heard Hainsworth had bought vodka and taken ‘‘three or four gulps’’ after parking and before going off to his meeting where he drank a pint of beer.

Defence counsel Charles Blatchford said Hainsworth had been meeting ‘‘a lady friend with whom he had a difficult relationship.’’ After parking up and while waiting for her he took large gulps of vodka as ‘‘nerve-steadying’’ for an awkward meeting.

When he returned to his car he was told he had bumped another vehicle and police were called. Hainsworth had told them: ‘‘I will be over the limit because I have had vodka and beer.’’

Mr Blatchford said Hainsworth had worked as a quantity surveyor for an agency undertaking contracts for the Defence Ministry. He had lost his job at the end of last year after restructuring and, because he was not a civil servant, he received no pension.

Hainsworth was now struggling with debts of £27,000 and was travelling the country in a bid to find a new job without success so far, probably because of his age.

‘‘He accepts he was over the limit and is mystified as to how that happened,’’ said Mr Blatchford.

Ordering a fine of £210 together with costs of £85, a £15 victim surcharge and a 15-month driving ban, court chairman Graham Saunders told Hainsworth: ‘‘Only you can know why, based on the count-back information, there was a level of alcohol in your breath at the time you got out of the car which was over the limit.’’