Drink-driver was nearly five times the limit when he had accident while driving erratically on A14 and A12

Christian Kirkham leaving court

Christian Kirkham leaving court

A drink-driver who was five times the legal alcohol limit has been spared prison after he was stopped following an accident.

Christian Kirkham, of Stones Green, Harwich, had driven erratically on the Bury St Edmunds-bound A14 over the Orwell Bridge and on to the slip road of the A12 at Copdock.

He was eventually pulled over by police at London Road, Capel St Mary.

The 33-year-old admitted drink-driving at 11am on December 12 when he appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates Court in Ipswich.

The court was told a breath test showed he had 176 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35mcgs.

Sentencing Kirkham District Judge Celia Dawson told him: “It’s obvious to me that this offence is so serious it is worthy of a custodial sentence. The drink-drive reading is so high it’s right off the scale on the sentencing guidelines.

“You were substantially over the limit and you were quite clearly not only a risk to yourself, but also to other people on the road.

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“It’s a surprise you managed to get as far as you did without killing yourself or somebody else.

“However, I find there are good reasons for suspending a prison sentence.”

The court was told Kirkham was a man of “exemplary” character who held down a responsible job in a bank and was dealing with various personal issues.

Kirkham was given a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months. He was also disqualified from driving for three years and ordered to pay a total of £165 in fines and costs.

Earlier his solicitor Mark Holt had told the court Kirkham had been employed by a bank, but had broken his arm and had 17 weeks off work, before returning.

The district judge was told Kirkham had always been a heavy drinker, but his use of alcohol had increased while he had been off. He also suffered from anxiety and depression.

On the day of the offence he was in his first full week of returning to work. Within an-hour-and-a-half he left work without telling anyone.

It was said Kirkham did not know why he had headed towards the A12 as he would normally have turned off the A137 at Wherstead and taken that route home.

Mr Holt said: “He had no idea of where he was going or what he was doing.

“He believes he must have had some sort of breakdown at work because it was completely bizarre behaviour on his behalf.

“Quite what happened on that day was completely unexpected and unexplained.”

The court heard Kirkham has self-referred to a substance addiction organisation.

Earlier prosecutor Emma Howson said Kirkham had a minor accident in his Ford Focus at the Copdock interchange.

Although Kirkham stopped and exchanged details with the other driver, he got in his car and drove off again prompting the other motorist to call police.

He had eventually been stopped by officers under the bridge at London Road, Capel St Mary.