Seven-year ban for drink driver

A Bigton man described in court as having a drink problem was banned from driving for seven years when he appeared at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday.

George Sutherland, 50, of Parkhead, Ireland, was found guilty after a trial to driving a van on the A970 between Sumburgh and Scatness and on the unclassified road between Dunrossness and Quendale on 5th August and having 83 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.

Sutherland had maintained that he was not driving.

Defence solicitor Tommy Allan said Sutherland’s position was that he had been in the Sumburgh Hotel before the police attended and had consumed alcohol in that time. Mr Allan produced two references that had been written in Sutherland’s defence, and these were read by Sheriff Graeme Napier.

Mr Allan said Sutherland ran a business which provides employment and had managed to keep this up for some time.

The sheriff asked if Sutherland accepted that he had a drink problem. Mr Allan said Sutherland was “quite open” about his situation with drink. In fact when he had lost his licence on a previous occasion he had given up drink for two years – after that time he had got his licence back early.

Mr Allan said: “He [Sutherland] works hard and employs people. He is aware of the range of options [of sentencing] and it is no small matter for him.”

The sheriff said the “best thing” in Sutherland’s favour was that he employed people, but he was very close to going to prison.

The sheriff warned him: “If you appear before me again you will go to custody.”

A large financial penalty had not kept Sutherland out of trouble in the past, he said, and Sutherland should carry out unpaid community work “for the benefit of the people in Shetland”.

The sheriff put Sutherland on probation for a year and ordered him to do 200 hours of community service work. He also told him to address his alcohol consumption and imposed a restriction of liberty order for two months, in addition to the driving ban.


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