Friday, November 16, 2007

Drink-drive music teacher jailed

Drink-drive music teacher jailed

A music teacher from Cardiff has been jailed for two months after she was caught nearly five times over the drink-drive limit at lunchtime.
Karen Howard, 44, was stopped by police after her driving alarmed another road user so much they reported her.

Richard Paull, prosecuting at Cardiff magistrates court, said the witness described Howard, as "all over the road" in the Llandaff area of the city.

The court heard Howard, who admitted drink-driving, had an alcohol problem.

Magistrates were told Howard, who is a supply teacher, had been to choir practice the night before and then on to a private function where she drank until 0130 GMT.

But she claimed she had not had a drink on the day she was stopped.

Since this happened her life has effectively fallen about around her

John Young, defending

Mr Paull said: "The manner of her driving was such that it alarmed another motorist two cars behind.

"He said she was all over the road and swerving. She was on the wrong side of the road and her Peugeot almost collided with another vehicle at a roundabout."

The court heard she was stopped and breathalysed by officers further down the road and was found to have 168mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mg.

At a previous court appearance, when Howard, of the Penylan area of Cardiff, admitted drink driving, she denied having an alcohol problem.

'Virtually paralysed'

But John Young, defending, said she now accepted this was not the case.

Mr Young said "alcohol-aggravated problems" had led to her being admitted to hospital between last November and February when all of her organs shut down.

He said she had been virtually paralysed and only able to move two fingers.

"She clinically died several times during her time in hospital," he said.

Pleading for Howard not to be jailed, Mr Young said: "She is an active member of the community - she plays the organ in church and is due to perform this Sunday.

'Serious risk'

"Since this happened her life has effectively fallen about around her. Her reputation has gone and her teaching work has dried up completely."

The court heard Howard, who was accompanied in court by her parents, has made an appointment to attend an alcohol course.

A character reference from the vicar and choirmaster of her church was also given.

But Howard was jailed for two months, banned from driving for three years and will have to sit an extended test to drive again.

Chief magistrate Susan Williams told her: "You pose a serious risk to other road users. We have decided upon a custodial sentence."

Her mother said outside the court: "She is such a good girl. She has done so much for children and young people. It doesn't seem right."


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