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Van driver five times over drink-drive limit is jailed

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A VAN driver has been jailed after being caught behind the wheel on his way to work while five times over the drink-drive limit – the highest level that Jersey’s Assistant Magistrate has ever had to sentence.

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The vehicle driven by Gabriel Eugenio Clemente Estevas (53), of St Saviour’s Road, hit barriers, which struck a pedestrian, leaving him in pain.

The accused was so drunk, the court heard, that he could not recall picking up a work colleague at 7 am at West’s Centre and then driving around the town centre.

Jailing Esteves for nine months, Assistant Magistrate Peter Harris said: ‘In my view the question of public safety must take priority over personal circumstances. As this is his second band D offence [drink-driving] in four years, I cannot avoid a custodial sentence.’

Mr Harris added: ‘I think it is safe to say that this is the highest reading I have ever had to sentence on and is exactly five times the legal limit.’

Esteves was also banned from driving for 54 months and told he must take and pass a Jersey driving test after the ban had ended before his licence could be returned.

The level of alcohol recorded in his breath when he blew into the intoximeter at 8.35 am on 27 March was 175 mcg of alcohol in 100 ml of breath. The legal limit is 35 mcg. The court was told that, in 2014, Esteves was also prosecuted for drink-driving and on that occasion he had a level of 133 mcg of alcohol in 100 ml of breath.

Police legal adviser Lauren Hallam, prosecuting, said that the van hit a barrier in Castle Street. She said the barrier Esteves hit was attached to another that connected with both legs of a pedestrian.

‘The pedestrian did not fall over but he was in pain,’ said Miss Hallam.

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The court was told that the van passenger got out to see how the pedestrian was but not the driver. The pedestrian noticed that the driver was slumped over the steering wheel and called the police.

The court heard that, as this point, the defendant drove off towards Sand Street car park and went through a red light. Miss Hallam said that his bad driving was witnessed by an off-duty police officer.

She added that Esteves was seen stopping and starting and drifting from one side of the road to the other.

The court heard that he drove through the Tunnel and his actions at the Green Street roundabout were described as ‘strange and unpredictable’.

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Finally, the defendant was arrested by a police sergeant, who reached into the cab of the vehicle to take the keys while the van was stopped at traffic lights at the end of Grenville Street.

The court was told that the officer became concerned after seeing the traffic lights turn green, red, and back to green without the van moving.

In addition to a charge of drink-driving, Esteves also admitted careless driving, failing to stop and report an accident and failing to comply with a traffic- light signal.

Thirty-nine people have been caught drink-driving so far this year, compared to 125 last year and 142 in 2016.

JEP Newsdesk

By JEP Newsdesk
Reporter

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