Soldier admits drink-drive charge

A soldier preparing to be deployed to Afghanistan is today banned from the road after admitting drink-driving.

WATTISHAM: A soldier preparing to be deployed to Afghanistan is today banned from the road after admitting drink-driving.

Lance Corporal Michael Atenyan, based at RAF Wattisham with the 3rd Army Air Corps, also pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention.

He told South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court his career could be seriously affected by a road ban.

The 28-year-old was involved in a car accident on the A140 at Coddenham on August 18, when the Mercedes CT200 he was driving collided with the back of the vehicle in front.

A breath test revealed the soldier had 49 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35mcg.

Neil Saunders, mitigating, said Atenyan had been out in Norwich the night before the incident.

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“He had booked into a hotel and done everything right. He felt alright before leaving but obviously his liver did not,” Mr Saunders said.

“He is due to deploy to Afghanistan in January and cannot drive there if he cannot drive here under Army rules, so disqualification is going to affect his career.”

A report by his sergeant major was read out in court describing Atenyan, who has been in the Army since September 2005 and who has already completed one tour of duty in Afghanistan, as “a strong, dependable and well mannered” soldier.

He said the incident was likely to have far reaching implications and a detrimental effect on his career. Atenyan is likely to face a ban on any promotion and could face a demotion in rank at separate Army hearings, the court heard.

Sentencing Atenyan, District Judge David Cooper said it was a “deeply unfortunate” incident.

He said: “I express hope this should not affect your future career.”

Atenyan was disqualified from driving for 12 months, which will be reduced to nine months if a rehabilitation course is completed. He was also fined �100, ordered to pay �85 costs and a government surcharge of �15.

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