Drink-driving wine shop boss crashed car after private tasting party

Jason Welham hosted a private wine tasting event in Felixstowe before heading home to Stowmarket Pi

Jason Welham hosted a private wine tasting event in Felixstowe before heading home to Stowmarket Picture: KEIRON TOVELL - Credit: EDP Norfolk Magazine Archant

A Felixstowe wine merchant crashed his car while three-and-a-half times the drink-driving limit following an evening tasting session.

Jason Welham was banned from the road for 30 months after pleading guilty to driving his Alfa Romeo with 123 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit being 35mcg.

The 37-year-old, of Sandpiper Road, Stowmarket, drove through a red light and mounted a roundabout shortly after leaving work in Felixstowe on August 20.

The crash was witnessed by another motorist, who first heard a screeching of brakes, while waiting at the junction on the A14 at about 11.30pm.

When police arrived, Welham was in the back of an ambulance, where he disclosed eating nothing but toast before going to work at the Wine Boutique, in Hamilton Road, that morning.

Prosecutor Lucy Miller told Suffolk Magistrates’ Court that Welham recalled drinking “three or four quarter glasses” of wine and eating a few cashews while hosting a private party at the shop.

“He felt he was a ‘low two’ on the scale of drunkenness and would never have driven home knowingly over the limit,” she added.

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Welham had been experiencing nausea and sweating as side effects of taking the anti-depressant citalopram for two weeks before the crash.

In a police interview, he claimed tiredness may have caused the crash, and remembered colliding with something after momentarily falling asleep at wheel.

Solicitor Paul Booty told magistrates that Welham’s story “seemed to fit” witness accounts of the crash.

“Given he had a long day and nothing to eat, I think he genuinely fell asleep at the wheel,” he added.

Mr Booty said Welham had put himself under “tremendous pressure” to succeed after becoming manager of the relocated Wine Boutique.

“He is particularly ashamed of what he has done,” added Mr Booty.

“His previous good character is now lost. I don’t think a custodial sentence would be any good for him or society.”

Magistrates banned Welham from driving for 30 months, ordered him to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work, and pay £85 in costs and an £85 statutory fee towards victim services.