Canterbury city councillor banned after drink drive crash in Whitstable
by Ed Targett
A Canterbury councillor careered
off the road while drunk behind the wheel of his car – leaving
it stuck in a tree above a river.
Tory Neil Baker – who was more
than double the legal limit - had to be helped from the airborne
Renault Clio by a man who had seen the crash in Pean Hill,
Thanet magistrates heard the
30-year-old, who is chairman of the Canterbury Conservative
Association, had "foolishly" knocked back drinks before driving to
the city to see friends.
He had reached the junction of
Bogshole Lane at 7.10pm when he claims he lost control – blaming
ice on the road.
Prosecuting, Julie Farbrace
said: "A member of the public saw the Renault Clio on Pean Hill
swerve sharply to the left then leave the road.
"He went over to help and found
the vehicle suspended in a tree over a river.
"He assisted the driver in
getting out of the vehicle.
"Police attended and smelled
alcohol on his breath. He was arrested and made a full and frank
admission that he had been drinking.
"He stated he had lost control
of the vehicle owing to possible ice on the road."
When breathalysed, Baker, of St
Patrick’s Close, Whitstable, gave a reading of 83 microgrammes of
alcohol in 100ml of breath – the legal limit is 35.
His defence solicitor Lewis
Holloway said his actions had been "completely out of character"
and he had already been reprimanded by Tory bosses.
He said: "Mr Baker tells me he
had a few hours spare. He was going to see friends in Canterbury
and foolishly decided to have a few drinks before he
"He is deeply ashamed. It is
completely out of character for him.
"Mr Baker has already received
some punishment. He has lost his position as a cabinet member at
Canterbury City Council."
Baker, whose girlfriend is
expecting twins, was banned from driving for 20 months, fined £200
and hit with £85 costs and a £25 victim surcharge. He paid the £310
after the hearing.
Approached outside the court, he
declined to comment, but city council leader John Gilbey said: "I
think he is obviously feeling very sorry for himself and I'm sure
that it is totally genuine.
"He was enjoying the work he was
doing on behalf of the Conservative group and I'm sure he will
"It is very sad and it will make
life difficult without use of a car."
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