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Woman caught driving after taking 'mind-bending' cocktail of drugs

She told stunned police: "I'm a ballerina"

John Herring

Reporter:

John Herring

Court

A WOMAN who took a mind-bending cocktail of drugs chose to drive home from a Christmas party, despite being barely able to stand.  

Police were astonished to see 24-year-old Jessica Burgess apparently driving on the wrong side of the A33 in Reading in the early hours of Christmas Eve. 

The patrol car’s dashcam footage was screened at Reading Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, March 16, in which one officer could be heard asking his colleague: “Is she on the wrong side of the road?”

The court heard that Ms Burgess, of Glaisdale, Thatcham, had been driving in a bus lane and, when police gave chase, she stopped dead in the carriageway as if about to execute a U-turn.

Her car was later found stopped at an angle in the middle of a road off the dual carriageway.

When officers approached Ms Burgess, she appeared very agitated and was talking rapidly; saying of her male passenger “it’s his fault, he’s a backseat driver”.

Lesley Gilmore, prosecuting, said that Ms Burgess was swaying, her fingers were twitching rapidly and that she kept complaining that she was thirsty.

A white powdery residue also covered her nostril.   

Tests later showed cocaine and ketamine – a dissociative anaesthetic that can cause temporary paralysis and hallucinations – in her system.

Ms Burgess was also said to have had MDMA, or ecstasy, in her bloodstream at the time, but this charge was withdrawn.

She was also just under the legal alcohol limit for driving.

She pleaded guilty to the cocaine and ketamine charge. 

Ms Gilmore said: “She couldn’t follow simple instructions. She said she was a ballerina, but couldn’t stand up with one leg raised.

“She was unable to count and, when asked to touch her nose with the tip of her finger, she missed.”

Defending, Steve Molloy said Ms Burgess had been at a Christmas party where drugs were being taken.

“She had a sniff and unfortunately that’s what happened,” he said, adding that Ms Burgess was not dependent on drugs. 

Mr Molloy said that Ms Burgess had been of previous good character, although she had received a caution 11 years ago and was “deeply ashamed to find herself in court for the first time”.

He said that Ms Burgess had lost her job as a result and was now claiming Job Seeker’s Allowance.

She had also moved to Kent to take up a summer job at an entertainment park.

Mr Molloy said: “This is a case that has been a wake-up call for her. She has vowed never to take drugs again – hopefully this is someone who will not bother the courts again.”

A district judge told Ms Burgess she had put herself and other road users at risk by turning her car into a deadly weapon. 

She said: “You are a sensible woman who acted ridiculously and stupidly on this occasion.

“This was an appalling standard of behaviour.”

Ms Burgess was disqualified from driving for 18 months and fined £200.

She was also ordered to pay £80 costs plus a statutory victim surcharge of £30.

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