Serial drink driver avoids jail

THIRD time lucky Christopher Thompson has dodged prison despite being nearly four times the limit in his latest brush with the breathalyser. Lenient magistrates gave the Ipswich man yet another chance to beat his drink problem despite hearing it was his third offence in less than five years.

THIRD time lucky Christopher Thompson has dodged prison despite being nearly four times the limit in his latest brush with the breathalyser.

Lenient magistrates gave the Ipswich man yet another chance to beat his drink problem despite hearing it was his third offence in less than five years.

Even his solicitor said Thompson, of Pickwick Road, deserved to go to jail.

But chair of the bench Fenella Blastland told the 25-year-old he would be punished in the community instead of in prison.

Prosecutor Allan Compton read out Thompson's shameful driving record to South-East Suffolk Magistrates Court.

In January 1997 he was given 18 months' probation after being convicted of drink-driving and having no insurance.

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Six months later he was back before the courts. For being over the limit and driving while disqualified, he was sentenced to five months in a young offenders' institute.

A further three-year ban was imposed in May 2000, when Thompson was again convicted of driving while disqualified.

Mr Compton said the Ipswich man was still serving his latest disqualification when he was stopped by a policeman in Pickwick Road in the early hours of December 2.

He told the court that when Thompson's breath was tested at Ipswich police station he clocked up a whopping 133mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath – almost four times over the 35mg limit.

Ian Duckworth, mitigating, pleaded for his client to be given another chance, despite admitting he scarcely deserved one.

He said: "He knows any custodial sentence is justified and merited, but bearing in mind he is in full-time employment and taking steps to address his problems, please don't put him inside.

"It would be a very big kick in the teeth, but he knows prison is justified."

Mr Duckworth said Thompson's life was trouble-free apart from his alcohol problem – a problem he was now tackling through de-toxification programmes and counselling.

He said: "If we can avoid sending people to prison, my application is that we do it."

Chair of the bench Miss Blastland said Thompson would serve a community punishment of 80 hours and community rehabilitation of 18 months.

She said she and her two fellow magistrates were convinced Thompson now wanted to beat his booze problem.

In imposing another three-year driving ban, she said: "You cannot go near a car and you have got to recognise that.

"You have come close to a custodial sentence today and that will be the punishment if it happens again."

Thompson was also fined £350 for driving without insurance and ordered to pay £50 costs.

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