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Thatcham drink-driver was almost four times limit

Magistrates reject woman's claim she drank after accident

John Garvey

john.garvey@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886628

court gavel

A THATCHAM woman who consumed nearly four times the drink-drive limit crashed her car then lied to police, a court ruled.

Instead of facing up to her crime, Teresa Bowley drove off and concocted a fake excuse.

On Wednesday, August 22, she stuck to her story during her trial at Reading Magistrates’ Court, claiming the very high alcohol reading was a result of having drunk neat rum from the bottle after the crash.

She denied driving a Perodua Myvi after drinking more than the legal limit on March 24, despite the fact that tests showed 136mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath in her system. The legal limit is 35mcg.

Ngaa Sivuku, prosecuting, said Ms Bowley, a 52-year-old care worker who lives at Longcroft Road, had been staying at her mother’s home in The Henrys, Thatcham, when she decided to drive to the shop.

Police were called at around 4.30pm after Ms Bowley drove into an Audi A1 parked outside, denting the bodywork, before driving off.

Ms Sivuku added that, when police officers called at her mother’s home, Ms Bowley initially said she had not had a drink since the night before – but then changed her story.

Giving evidence from the witness box, Ms Bowley admitted she had been drinking neat white rum before the crash, but only a modest amount.

She said of the accident: “I was going to the shop and reversed out. I felt something, but wasn’t sure what.

“I drove around the block and when I got back there was a woman shouting at me, saying I’d just hit her f****** car and why did I drive off.

“She was being quite aggressive to me.

“I went inside and straight upstairs. I drank at least half-a-bottle of white rum.

“I was drinking very fast.

“According to the statement I gave to the police I said I hadn’t been drinking, but that wasn’t true.”

Magistrates were shown pictures of the damage to the neighbour’s car.

Phil Kouvaritakis, defending, submitted a report from a forensic scientist which suggested Ms Bowley could indeed have been under the limit when she drove, if her story was true.

He told magistrates they had to decide whether his client’s account was “complete hogwash” or whether she was telling the truth, pointing out that she had never been in trouble with the police before.

Ms Sivuku reminded the court that, in cases of post-incident drinking – known colloquially as the ‘hip flask defence’ – the burden of proof is reversed.

In other words, although the prosecution usually have to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt, when a defendant advances a post-incident drinking defence, the burden of proof is on them.

In this case, said Ms Sivuku, the defence case “just doesn’t make sense”.

She challenged the mathematics of the expert report submitted by the defence and reminded magistrates that Ms Bowley had changed her story after initially claiming she had not been drinking.

After retiring to confer, magistrates found Ms Bowley guilty of drink-driving.

They ordered pre-sentence reports to be prepared and Ms Bowley was meanwhile released on bail.

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