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'End of the road' for lost drink-driver, slumped at wheel on wrong seafront

Delia Gill's car was found parked in Beach Station Road, Felixstowe  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Delia Gill's car was found parked in Beach Station Road, Felixstowe Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

A woman has been banned from driving for a third time after getting lost in Suffolk and being found slumped over the steering wheel of her car - 40 miles from her intended destination.

Gill should have been driving along the A12 towards Southwold but drove on to Felixstowe when her sat-nav stopped working  Picture: SIMON PARKERGill should have been driving along the A12 towards Southwold but drove on to Felixstowe when her sat-nav stopped working Picture: SIMON PARKER

Delia Gill downed three glasses of wine to calm her nerves before driving across the county towards Southwold for a weekend with friends at a campsite on Friday, on May 10.

The 55-year-old's Volkswagen Golf was seen tailgating other vehicles and swerving between lanes of the A14 at Bucklesham before an ambulance crew found its driver slumped over the wheel, almost four times the legal alcohol limit, on Felixstowe seafront at about 7.45pm.

When arrested, explained prosecutor Colette Harper, Gill told police she had consumed three glasses of wine between finishing work as a chef and setting off from home in Bar Hill, Cambridge, two hours before getting lost when her satellite navigation system stopped working.

Despite another two hours elapsing before she was booked into custody, Gill was found to have 120 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath - the limit being 35mcg.

The chef had been destined for a weekend with friends in Southwold  Picture: SIMON PARKERThe chef had been destined for a weekend with friends in Southwold Picture: SIMON PARKER

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The amateur dancer, who was banned from driving in 1997 and 2007, admitted her third excess alcohol offence at Suffolk Magistrates' Court on Tuesday.

Jeremy Kendall, mitigating, said Gill had used alcohol to combat an inherent anxiety of driving long distances.

She had exhibited genuine remorse for committing the offence, added Mr Kendall, who also passed on his client's "sense of shame" to magistrates.

"Although aided by her sat-nav, it stopped working and she ended up literally at the end of the road in Felixstowe," he told the court.

In a pre-sentence report, the probation service said Gill fully understood the consequences of her actions and was distraught by the prospect of a custodial sentence.

Magistrates said she could easily have been facing a jail term, given her previous similar convictions, but decided to impose a 12-month community order with 150 hours of unpaid work and up to 30 days of rehabilitation activity requirement, including an alcohol management and drink-driving programme.

She was also banned from driving for 30 months and ordered to contribute £85 towards the cost of prosecution.

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