Van driver avoids jail after failing breathalyser test

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Joao Gabriel da Costa Goncalves (52), of Queen’s Road, was instead sentenced to 120 hours of community service, banned from driving for 42 months and fined £1,500.

The defendant was driving a Ford Transit at about 9.10 pm on Thursday 19 April when he collided with the lorry, which was driving in the opposite direction.

The lorry driver said that he saw the van was over the centre white line as it rounded a bend.

Centenier Tony Batho said: ‘The lorry driver stopped, closed his eyes, clutched his steering wheel and waited for the collision. He said that he had nowhere to go because of the size of his vehicle.’

After the crash Goncalves drove off and the lorry driver called the police. Goncalves was arrested minutes later by police officers carrying out a road check outside B&Q.

Goncalves admitted charges of drink driving, driving without due care and attention and failing to stop and report an accident.

Centenier Batho said police officers heard an alert over their radios and then saw the Ford Transit approaching them at speed. He said that officers noted that the vehicle’s wing mirrors were damaged and when they spoke to the driver, he immediately admitted drinking before driving.

The lorry driver estimated that the van was travelling at about 40 mph and was straddling the white line as it came around a corner. The court heard that the collision caused ‘significant’ damage to the lorry.

When breathalysed, Goncalves gave a reading of 94 mcg of alcohol in 100 ml of breath. The legal limit s 35 mcg.

Advocate Michael Haines, defending, said that his client had long-term issues with alcohol. He asked the court not to impose a custodial sentence and to instead follow the recommendations of a social inquiry report. Advocate Haines said the defendant’s job did not require him to drive and that he would stay in work at the Grand Hotel if he was not jailed.

Assistant Magistrate Peter Harris highlighted that this was the defendant’s second offence in eight years. However, he said that the court noted the defendant was co-operative and pleaded guilty at his first

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