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Judge criticises Plymouth police for detaining drink drive doctor for three nights

By Plymouth Herald  |  Posted: January 14, 2014

By SAM BLACKLEDGE Herald reporter

Judge criticises Plymouth police for detaining drink drive doctor
Comments (14)

A JUDGE has criticised police for keeping a doctor in custody for three nights after she was arrested for drink-driving.

GP Joanna Bailey, aged 58, of Pulborough, West Sussex, was seen driving erratically along Eggbuckland Road on Friday at about 9pm.

She was more than three times over the drink-drive limit, and officers found an empty bottle of vodka and a half-empty bottle of Sauvignon Blanc wine in her car.

Bailey was kept in custody until today, when she appeared before District Judge Ian Strongman at Plymouth Magistrates’ Court.

District Judge Strongman said Bailey’s detention seemed like “an unlawful policy”, telling her: “You should never have been kept in custody by police. The decision was quite wrong in my judgement.”

The court heard that Bailey was driving a Nissan Micra and was seen to swerve across the road on several occasions, at one point into the path of an oncoming vehicle, before coming to a halt.

Prosecutor Michael Brown said: “A witness said he felt people’s lives were being put at risk. The defendant said ‘I know I’m in trouble, I have been drinking.’”

Bailey was found to have 103mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. The limit is 35mg.

Patrick Somerville, for Bailey, said: “I made representations that there were no grounds whatsoever to keep Mrs Bailey in custody. My representations fell on deaf ears, and to put it lightly the custody sergeant and I did not see eye to eye.

“They seem to have a policy that if there is a reading over 100mg defendants will be kept in custody.”

Mr Somerville added: “There have been many consequences that follow from this case. It is embarrassing, it is humiliating, she is very remorseful, she is very upset. She has a strong support network and she is very fortunate to have the means to be able to refer herself to organisations that can assist her.”

District Judge Strongman told Bailey that he would normally impose a community order, but that he considered her time spent in custody to be punishment enough.

Bailey admitted one count of driving under the influence of alcohol and was banned from getting behind the wheel for 24 months.

A police spokesman said: "An arrested person can be held in police custody for 24 hours without charge,

36 hours if a Superintendent has authorised the detention or 96 hours if this was granted by a court.

"The woman was charged at 5.30pm on Saturday 11th January and went to the next available court on Monday morning.

"We would not comment on the judge’s remarks."

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14 comments

  • coffeecup  |  January 15 2014, 11:37AM

    Err that's what used to happen back in the eighties, none of this bailing to appear in court 3 months down the line like today. Lets go back to arrest, detain and in court the next day for drink drivers, you bail them and you run the risk of them reoffending, killing someone before going to court

    Rate   7
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  • Toby_Clubroot  |  January 14 2014, 12:53PM

    I wish newspapers would stop printing contradictions like, "an empty bottle of vodka", when they actually mean, "an empty vodka bottle".

    Rate   3
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  • Daritedan  |  January 14 2014, 12:38PM

    scottypafc20 no, I am not an idiot although I can't speak for people who responded to my comment without reading it properly. At no time did I defend or condone what the lady did. I was saying that if we withdraw from "civil rights" the government and police can treat you as they like and you have no recourse to justice,

    Rate   4
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  • millysouris  |  January 14 2014, 11:57AM

    This lady obviously has an alcohol dependency problem which is very sad. However the judge could have highlighted the fact that she was in a fortunate position to privately self refer to an agency BEFORE her conviction. The vast majority of people caught with similar alcohol levels face much harsher penalties.

    Rate   5
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  • DJANGO6421  |  January 14 2014, 11:29AM

    No mention of a fine or victim support payment ordered,WHY? is she exempt? Other persons convicted of crimes have these penalties imposed upon them.

    Rate   -2
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  • generation_X  |  January 14 2014, 10:24AM

    3 nights with that alcohol reading would give her just enough time to sober up before the judge!! why was someone from east sussex driving around eggbuckland drunk anyway? if shed given a plymouth address she most probably would have been let home after being charged to reappear before court monday. but obviously not to drive back to sussex for a day. should have got jail

    Rate   5
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  • BS_Hater  |  January 14 2014, 10:02AM

    Agree with all comments made ref drunk drivers, dangerous to public etc. However we must not overlook the abuse of individual (the doctor) by an organisation into who's care she was admitted (the police). Law is law, ALL crime is serious and EVERYONE regardless of position or status needs to answer to it including (as we are so often seeing now) police officers. Whom it appears are increasingly flouting the law and regulations applicable to their own codes of practice and human rights. Personally I find this more worrying than one drunk driver......

    Rate   9
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  • wazte_of_mone  |  January 14 2014, 9:18AM

    And a 24 month driving ban maxheadroom, but I agree, 3 x limit should be jail time. Doctor or not. And the ban should start on release from prison. Evidently this drunk had a problem with bottles being found in the car.

    Rate   4
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  • The_Reverend  |  January 14 2014, 9:13AM

    Another fine example of one rule for one & one for another. No doubt he want even get struck off or the necessary employers notified like they do with any other person of works for the NHS or any other government run employer.

    Rate   1
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  • scottypafc20  |  January 14 2014, 9:02AM

    daritedan - are you an idiot or a friend of the drunk? You know - the drunk who could have killed people and didn't give a toss for anyone else.

    Rate   4
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