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Former NHS worker drove after drinking four times legal limit

Ex service manager also battled heroin addiction, court told

John Garvey

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John Garvey

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A FORMER, senior health service employee whose life descended into heroin hell has been caught drink-driving.

At a previous hearing this year, magistrates heard how the one-time service manager lost everything to the drug’s grip – her job, her home and even her sanity.

In April, Sarah Anne Apicella was made subject to a 12-month community order, coupled with a with drug rehabilitation requirement programme.

But on Thursday, November 3, she was back in the dock – this time for drink-driving.

Clare Barclay, prosecuting, said police initially stopped the 40-year-old as she drove in the early hours because computer checks showed the car was insured to be driven by a male.

She added: “Then, when they spoke to her, they smelled alcohol.”

Tests subsequently showed 136mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath in her system – almost four times the legal limit of 35mcg.

She admitted driving a white Ford Transit van in Cheriton Close, Newbury, on October 19, and driving without insurance on the same occasion.

The court heard Ms Apicella, of Denman Drive, Newbury, was already subject to a community order.

That was imposed at the April hearing for possessing Class A drugs.

At that hearing James Foster, defending, said: “She managed to reach the age of 38 without a single conviction.

“She studied politics and psychology at university and worked her way up the ranks of the NHS with some success.”

Her life began to spiral out of control, added Mr Foster, due to “quite horrific abuse from her ex-husband”.

Ms Apicella was eventually detained under the Mental Health Act at the Prospect Park psychiatric hospital in Tilehurst, her home was repossessed and she lost her job, the court heard.

Her two children had to be looked after by family members, said Mr Foster, although Ms Apicella continued to have a relationship with them.

Ms Apicella was trying to rebuild her life, magistrates were told and, at the latest hearing Adonis Daniel, defending, said: “We concede that, given the level of the alcohol reading, this crosses the community penalty threshold.”

He invited the court to adjourn for pre-sentence reports to be prepared.

Magistrates concurred and bailed Ms Apicella until November 8.

Meanwhile, they imposed an interim driving ban.

However, they warned her that despite Mr Daniel’s recommendation of a community penalty, a custodial sentence could not be ruled out.

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