Drink-drive charge dismissed

A FORMER police sergeant who turned up drunk for an early morning meeting at a police station walked free from court after a drink drive charge was dismissed.

A FORMER police sergeant who turned up drunk for an early morning meeting at a police station walked free from court after a drink drive charge was dismissed.

Magistrates in Ipswich halted the case against 49-year-old Ian Abery yesterday after hearing the prosecution evidence and decided that there was no case to answer.

Mr Abery, of Forester Close, Ipswich, was the anti-social behaviour coordinator for Suffolk Coastal District Council when he attended a work meeting at 8am at Woodbridge police station on December 15.

He was breathalysed after a worried constable conducting the meeting smelt alcohol and Mr Abery was found to have a reading of 89 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit for driving is 35 micrograms.

Mr Abery was first charged with driving with excess alcohol. This charge was changed during the investigation and when he appeared in court yesterday he denied being in charge of a motor vehicle with excess alcohol.

Magistrates took 25 minutes to review the prosecution evidence and throw the case out of court.

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Peter McGrath, chairman of the bench, said: “Officers concerned in the investigation have not been able to produce any credible evidence to show to the court that Mr Abery was in charge of the vehicle.

“No key was identified, no questions were asked and no checks were made to determine either whether the vehicle was driven that day or how the defendant got to the police station.”

Victoria Gilmour, a Woodbridge constable, told the court: “I could smell alcohol on Mr Abery's breath. I went and spoke to the duty sergeant and told him that I smelt alcohol on his breath and I was concerned that he had driven to the police station.

“Out of the window I could see Mr Abery's car was parked outside the police station.”

Pc Gilmour said the car was not there when she arrived at 7.45am. She admitted, under cross examination by Nicholas Freeman, defending, that she did not see the car arrive and she did not know who had occupied the car.

She said she did not see who got out of the car or feel the car bonnet to see if it had been driven.

Pc Gilmour admitted: “I did not see Mr Abery drive to the police station.”

Mr Freeman said, in asking the magistrates to dismiss the case: “There is absolutely no evidence that the defendant drove his car to work or to the police station.”

Mr Abery resigned from his job soon after the incident. In 2001 he resigned from Suffolk police after a disciplinary hearing. He had been based at Ipswich police station and had received a 30-month ban and a community service order for 180 hours for being more than three times the legal limit when he was driving a police vehicle through the centre of Ipswich.

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