Drink driver caught after making v-sign to Durham chief constable

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The Independent Online

As errors of judgement go, it was instantly regrettable. A drunk driver was today banned from the roads for five years and given a 12-week suspended jail sentence after sticking two fingers up at a fellow motorist, only to find that it was the chief constable of Durham.

Tracy Kelsey undertook and weaved around chief constable Jon Stoddart’s unmarked police car on the A1 earlier this month. The officer then chased and pulled over the 44-year-old Darlington man, who was almost four times the drink-drive limit.

Stoddart said: “I became aware of this car behind me without any lights on at dusk. He undertook me on the left-hand side of the motorway and I flashed my lights to warn him his weren’t on. He responded by giving me a two fingered gesture then pulled in front of me and braked suddenly.

“His driving was so erratic I put my ‘blues and twos’ on and instructed him to pull off the motorway onto a slip road at Bowburn [County Durham]. I ordered him into my car, where he promptly sat on my sunglasses, breaking them. They were a Christmas present from my wife, who was not very happy.”

Chief constable Stoddart said that Kelsey “reeked of booze” and admitted to him that he had a drink problem. Stoddart then radioed for back-up. Kelsey was breathalised and found to be almost four times over the legal limit of 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath.

The incident took place during the evening rush hour on 8 February. The court heard that this was the sixth time Kelsey had been charged with alcohol-related driving offences, the first coming in 1978 when he was aged 14. Kelsey, from Darlington, regularly drank 10 pints of lager per day and was jailed for six months for drink driving in 1994, the court was told.

Chairman of the bench Alan Milligan told Kelsey: “You are very lucky you did not kill somebody. You could have been facing a charge of manslaughter. You are either oblivious or do not care about the consequences of drink-driving.” Besides his driving ban, Kelsey’s jail term was suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to attend a drink-driving awareness course.