Car crash and Covid cost Tingwall man thousands

A Tingwall man who drove his car whilst under the influence of drugs and crashed, all while positive for Covid and required to self isolate, has been ordered to pay thousands of pounds in compensation at Lerwick Sheriff Court.

In what defence agent, Liam McAllister, called “the height of irony”, Lee John Andrew Graham, 25, was not in court to hear his sentence as he was pinged by the NHS test and trace app requiring him to self isolate until July 23, a request he wish he had obeyed in December 2020.

The court heard how Graham had made an early hours video call to his girlfriend on 26th December who described him as appearing under the influence, possibly due to his use of Xanax and cocaine.

During the call, made during the ten days of isolation Graham was required to take following a positive Covid test, he said he was going out, to which his girlfriend thought to mean by car and so she tried to dissuade him.

At 5.30am on 26th December a passerby driving on the A970 near Tingwall noticed a car in a field over a fence. He investigated and found no one inside the vehicle but whilst setting off noticed Mr Graham walking along the road.

He slowed and after asking if Graham was OK gave him a lift back to his Herrisdale Park, Gott, home, a journey of around five miles. The member of the public, the court was told, noticed Graham slurring his words but reported no smell of alcohol. After dropping him off, concerned, he contacted the police who visited Graham’s home.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie, described how the police found Graham “intoxicated, chewing his lips and with dilated pupils”.

He was taken to Lerwick Police Station and then to Gilbert Bain as a precautionary measure. At no time during the journey with the member of public, the police or whilst at hospital did Graham disclose he had been tested positive for Covid.

Neither did he attempt to socially distance himself during these interactions which included him taking a breath test.

MacKenzie described the impact Graham’s choices had had on those he came in contact with which included the member of public having to self isolate away from his family home over the Christmas period, police officers self isolating requiring other officers to cover shifts and the decontamination of the areas visited at Gilbert Bain.

None of those people he came into contact with tested positive.

In mitigation McAllister said his client’s actions were “inexcusable” and he wishes to “convey a sincere apology to the wider Shetland community”.

He also had the support of staff at a hotel he holds a managerial position at and has been drug free for seven months.

Sheriff Ian Cruickshank adjourned the court in order to properly weigh up possible punishments that included a custodial penalty.

In summing up the Sheriff said: “Clearly this is a serious matter and by good fortune no one was infected by Graham’s incredibly reckless behaviour.”

He also highlighted the fact that a pre sentencing report showed Mr Graham felt shame and remorse which the Sheriff felt was genuine.

Graham was disqualified from driving for 16 months, given a community payback supervision order for 18 months, must undertake 120 hours of unpaid work and was ordered to pay £4,500 in compensation.

The compensation was divided into three areas; £1,000 for the member of member of public, £2,000 to NHS Shetland and £1,500 to the Dogs Against Drugs charity.

A full round up of this week’s court cases will appear in The Shetland Times, out Friday.




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