Jail for driver who was too drunk to change gear

A disqualified driver who got drunk before taking to the wheel of his former partner’s car has been jailed for 30 weeks.

Matthew Smith, 27, of Leaside in Firth was also banned from driving for six years when he appeared from custody today at Lerwick Sheriff Court.
Smith took the car from the town’s Millgaet without the owner’s consent on 4th November.

He was so intoxicated he was unable to change gears for himself, relying instead on his terrified passenger to change for him.

Appearing for sentence before sheriff Philip Mann, Smith admitted taking the car and  driving uninsured between Nedersund Road and Millgaet while unfit through drink or drugs.

He also pleaded guilty to failing to provide samples to the police, and failing to admit to police that he had driven the car.

All the offences were committed while Smith was on bail.  Just being drunk meant he was breaching a bail condition which stated he was not to be intoxicated.

The court heard Smith had gone to his former partner’s house by prior arrangement for contact with his child. His partner went out and he left, leaving the child alone, and took the car.

Smith took a passenger with him, who was left “extremely distressed” by the manner of his driving.

The police were called and Smith was apprehended “fairly swiftly”.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said Smith’s antics had led him into deep trouble.

“The penny hasn’t dropped with him that this sort of attitude leads to him racking up charge after charge after charge.”

Defence agent Tommy Allan admitted Smith had managed to rack up quite a few.

He said Smith had accepted he had made things worse for himself. He wanted to say he was sorry and was prepared to accept the consequences of his actions.
Mr Allan added Smith had been making good progress before carrying out the offences.

“What makes this so unfortunate is that until the time he went on this venture he was doing really well, and it was the best he had been doing for some considerable time.”

He added Smith was working hard to deal with his drug problems, and was lowering his prescription for methadone.

He had been accepted back into the family home, and had taken on extra hours to complete his community work.

“There is no good reason why he should put all these things into jeopardy and take such a backward step,” said Mr Allan, who described Smith’s behaviour as “a piece of craziness”.

He urged sheriff Mann to take account of the progress Smith had made before he carried out the offences.

The sheriff, having left the bench to consider his verdict, told Smith he had no option but to impose a custodial sentence.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.