Mr Loophole fails to save Caprice from drink-driving ban

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The Independent Online

A solicitor who has built up a reputation for securing acquittals in court for a string of high-profile figures finally failed yesterday to save a celebrity client from a driving ban.

The model Caprice Bourret was banned from driving for 12 months and fined £ 1,000 on charges of drinking and driving.

Her solicitor, Nick Freeman, who had acquired the media nickname Mr Loophole, had argued at Highbury magistrates' court, north London, that his client should be spared a driving ban due to particular medical circumstances.

Mr Freeman - whose list of clients have included David Beckham, Sir Alex Ferguson, Wayne Rooney and the snooker player Ronnie O'Sullivan - told the court that her condition was due to a prescription drug for a urinary condition. The smell of alcohol on her breath, he maintained, was due to "alcohol halitosis".

The model had admitted being drunk while in charge of her car but she told police at the time of her arrest that her last alcohol consumption was a glass of wine an hour and half earlier.

Ms Bourret, 34, of Camden, north London, was stopped by police early on 10 December last year while driving her Mercedes convertible in Tottenham Court Road.

A breath test revealed she was about one and a half times the legal drink-drive limit, with 52 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 micrograms.

Sentencing Ms Bourret, who was also ordered to pay £ 2,500 costs, District Judge Emma Arbuthnot said the defence case fell "at the first hurdle" because the model had failed to prove she was taking the medication at the time of the offence.

The judge accused Ms Bourret of lying to the police about how much she had drunk in an attempt to avoid being breathalysed.

"As a ploy, because she smelled so strongly of alcohol, it failed," said Judge Arbuthnot. "Ms Bourret had had a great deal of wine that day - about two bottles in a 17-hour period.

"She had had one salad to eat in that time. She had drank one glass of wine minutes before she chose to get in a car. She smelled strongly of alcohol."

Ms Bourret said after the trial that her case may help in the campaign against drinking and driving.

"Do not drink and drive. That's all I have to say," she warned.

Mr Freeman added that the decision to ban his client for 12 months was a "disappointing result".

The burden in this case was on the defence to prove there were special reasons Ms Bourret should not be banned. "The judge has said we have not proved that to the appropriate standard," said Mr Freeman.

Famous clients

* David Beckham's speeding ban was overturned after Mr Freeman convinced a court that he was fleeing from the paparazzi.

* Wayne Rooney's driving conviction overturned because the court was persuaded that documentation regarding the prosecution had been mislaid.

* Sir Alex Ferguson was cleared of driving on the hard shoulder of a motorway after a court was told that he was desperate to go to the toilet.

* The soap star Dean Gaffney was cleared of speeding at 131mph because a police officer due to give evidence against him was on a training course.