Wed, 11 Jul 2018
A NEWBURY motorist was caught driving home from court – just minutes after being banned for drink-driving.
Police laid a trap for Robert Catalin Serban, of Pound Street, because they suspected he was going to flout the disqualification.
Earlier, Mr Serban had tried to persuade magistrates not to impose the obligatory, 12-month minimum disqualification, arguing ‘special reasons’.
In certain circumstances, defendants convicted of drink-driving may be able to have the mandatory ban significantly reduced or even avoided if ‘special reasons’ not to disqualify are successfully established.
But the court rejected the 25-year-old’s plea and banned him from the roads on June 11.
On Thursday, June 28, Anne Sawyer-Brandish, prosecuting, told Reading magistrates: “Police attended that court hearing and so were aware that he was banned that day.”
But officers became suspicious that Mr Serban might ignore the court order and so they put his vehicle on a “recognition hot list”, she added.
Sure enough, the court heard, the system was triggered when his registration was recorded travelling back to Newbury at 4.25pm.
Ms Sawyer-Brandish said: “Officers sat outside his home address and watched as he drove into his driveway with his girlfriend in the passenger seat.”
Mr Serban was arrested and subsequently admitted driving while disqualified.
Robert Jakes, defending, conceded his client’s actions constituted a “very serious breach” of a court order on the very day it was imposed, adding: “I’ve explained that to him in no uncertain terms.
“He knows the court could rightly send him straight to prison today and he is very fearful of that.”
He said Mr Serban had been a driver for a BMW dealership, but had been kept on as a sales and events co-ordinator in light of the ban.
Mr Jakes explained that his client’s girlfriend suffers from stress and anxiety and, when the ban was imposed, became very distressed.
He went on: “He believed she was going to have a full blown panic attack, so he got in the car and drove her home.”
When police arrested him in his driveway, said Mr Jakes, Mr Serban “was crying and sobbing and telling officers he had just wanted to get home”.
Mr Serban has since sold the car and his cousin now drives him to work, the court heard.
A probation officer who interviewed him said Mr Serban claimed he had not known he was forbidden to drive home, despite the ban having been imposed minutes earlier.
District judge Emma Russell told Mr Serban: “Breaching a court order as important as a driving disqualification on the very day it was imposed is a very serious matter.
“You would have been told you could be sent into custody for it – yet here you were, driving on the very same day.
“The offence is so serious that only a custodial sentence can be justified.”
However, she added, she felt able to suspend the sentence on this occasion.
Mr Serban was sentenced to eight weeks imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.
In addition, he was ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid community work and to pay £85 costs, plus a statutory victim services surcharge of £115.
Finally, Mr Serban was banned from driving for two years.