Jail term avoided after advocate pleads for the court’s compassion

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Advocate Julian Gollop’s pleadings kept Keith Tony Hennessy out of prison after he was convicted for his second offence of drink-driving in nine years.

Hennessy (43), who was more than three times the legal drink-drive limit, avoided a six-month custodial sentence and was instead ordered to complete 120 hours of community service and banned from driving for 48 months.

Advocate Gollop said that the offence was committed ‘in the most extreme and exceptional circumstances one can imagine’ and added that the defendant had been so upset trying to deal with his seriously ill wife that he had told her he could not cope any more and was going to get drunk.

In explaining the background, Mr Gollop said: ‘Prior to 2000 Mr Hennessy and his wife were both hard-working career people. A disaster struck when she had a very serious asthma attack. It was so serious that she “died” in the ambulance in the arms of my client. She suffered brain injury as a result.’

He said that since the injury Hennessy had been by his wife’s side and did a multitude of things for her on a day-to-day basis. Advocate Gollop said that the defendant was ‘a reliable, caring and honest individual’.

The court heard that about four months ago Hennessy’s wife’s condition had deteriorated and that on the day of the offence the defendant said it ‘was the worst I had ever seen her’.

‘I had reached the end of my tether and I could not cope any more,’ the defendant told Advocate Gollop.

Advocate Gollop said that Hennessy accepted that by driving he made a ‘gross error of judgment but did not know what to do and he just had to get away’.

The court heard that his driving was reported to the police by a motorist who followed his vehicle and saw him clip the kerb in Rue Le Masurier at about 8.30 pm on 11 November.

When he was later breathalysed at police headquarters, the reading was 118 mcg of alcohol in 100 ml of breath. The legal limit is 35 mcg.

The court heard that Hennessy’s previous conviction for drink-driving in December 2008 came about after the couple’s optimism and hope for a new treatment that was being devised by Great Ormond Street Hospital had been dashed.

‘He sat at home and drank that night after he had put her to bed and drove to work the next day without thought about being over the limit,’ said Advocate Gollop.

Since Hennessy’s arrest his wife has been in hospital and an improved care package will be put in place before she returns home, the court heard.

In sentencing, Relief Magistrate Nuno Santos-Costa said: ‘The level of alcohol in your breath was very, very high and would leave this court to consider a sentence of six months in prison. However, I am persuaded that this is a matter that requires my compassion.’

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