Drink Drive shame of Police Sergeant

PUBLISHED: 16:00 01 September 2001 | UPDATED: 10:29 03 March 2010

A SUFFOLK sergeant has escaped jail after driving to the scene of a suspected crime in a marked police van when more than three times the legal alcohol limit.

A SUFFOLK sergeant has escaped jail after driving to the scene of a suspected crime in a marked police van when more than three times the legal alcohol limit.

Sgt Ian "Tex" Abery, based at Ipswich police station, faces the prospect of losing his job after pleading guilty to driving with excess alcohol while on duty.

Magistrates in Ipswich adjourned the case for the preparation of reports and ruled out the possibility of a custodial sentence.

The court heard that the 44-year-old got behind the wheel of a police van on Tuesday and drove from the Civic Drive station to Robin Way.

During the journey Abery forgot to put on the police lights and sirens and just avoided having an accident near Alexandra Road.

A colleague, Pc Tony Fisher, noticed Abery's state and reported it at the station. A breath test revealed the disgraced sergeant measured 121 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35mcgs.

Shina > Cooksley, prosecuting, told the court that Abery got behind the wheel of the van to attend the suspected crime at about 2.50pm.

When he and Pc Fisher arrived at the scene it became apparent that their attendance was not necessary and they decided to return to the station.

Ms Cooksley said: "Sgt Abery was having trouble starting the police van and Pc Fisher asked if he wanted him to drive. Abery turned him down, he (Pc Fisher) noticed he (Abery) was slurring his words and had a glazed look in his eyes."

Back at the station Pc Fisher reported his observations to a senior ranking officer.

Ms Cooksley continued: "The defendant was arrested at 3.45pm, at that point Sgt Abery said he was sorry for putting them (other police officers) through this."

She added that two bottles of wine were found in a bin in an office that Abery had been using.

In mitigation David Goodin said there was no suggestion that Abery had drunk while on duty and that he had last had a drink at 2am.

He said: "He has never, not in any circumstances, ever drunk while on duty. That was not his room and they were not his bottles."

Mr Goodin described Abery as an "extraordinary man" with an "extraordinary record".

In March this year he received a commendation for bravery for Chief Constable Paul Scott Lee after breaking up a fight at a school as 40 youths looked on.

However his criminal conviction could lead to him losing his job when he faces a police disciplinary hearing in a few weeks time.

Mr Goodin said Abery faces three possible outcomes: being sacked, being offered the chance to resign or being demoted.

The solicitor told the court that Abery had taken to drinking heavily in off-duty hours to combat stress and help him sleep.

He added that he had drunk heavily the previous night and for the duration of the Bank Holiday weekend.

He said: "The disgrace he has poured onto himself already cannot be emphasised too much. It's an extraordinary combination of circumstances."

Jane Fiske, chairman of the bench, said: "This is a very serious offence as I am sure you realise. We say the aggravating features are the very high reading, the fact that it did affect your driving and that you are a serving police officer who was on duty at the time."

She added that mitigating features were that he had a clean driving license and had entered a guilty plea at the first opportunity."

Magistrates imposed an interim driving ban and adjourned the case for the preparation of pre-sentence reports to September 19. Abery was told the prospect of custody had been ruled out. He was released on unconditional bail.

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