Court

Drink-drive taxi driver fined and banned

A taxi driver who got behind the wheel after drinking to celebrate good news about his disabled son was yesterday banned from the roads for 18 months and fined.

Cornell Bailey, 57, pleaded guilty in Magistrates’ Court to driving while more than twice the legal alcohol limit on South Road, Southampton, on June 13.

Bailey told the court that he and his wife had taken his disabled son to hospital in the United States the week before.

He said he received good news on June 13 and “it was like a weight that lifted off my head”.

Bailey, from St George’s, said he drank despite not being “a drinking person”.

He added: “I know I have done wrong. I apologise for doing that.”

Bailey, who told the court that his wife took early retirement to care for their son, asked magistrate Khamisi Tokunbo for leniency.

He said: “Please don’t take me off the road for driving taxi, for my clients and everything else.”

But Mr Tokunbo told Bailey: “It’s unfortunate that you turned good news into bad news by celebrating with Super Ts and driving.”

He added that the offence attracted a mandatory disqualification. The court heard that Bailey’s taxi was spotted swerving across lanes as he was driving west along South Road in Warwick.

Police officers in a private car behind the taxi attempted to catch his attention but were unsuccessful. The officers called for back up, but Bailey pulled into the car park of Henry VIII Restaurant in Southampton.

Officers noticed that his breath smelled of alcohol, he was unsteady on his feet and his eyes were glazed. They also spotted a brown paper bag with two empty beer bottles in the taxi.

Bailey admitted to police: “I had one or two to drink.”

He was arrested and taken to Hamilton Police Station where a breathalyser test showed that he had 162 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood — the legal limit is 80mg.

Mr Tokunbo fined him $1,200 in addition to the ban.

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