Drink-driver almost six times alcohol limit crashed into petrol pumps then fell unconscious

A drink-driver who was almost six times the alcohol limit fell unconscious in a police car after twice crashing into the pumps of a petrol station.

The petrol station in Hereford Road, Shrewsbury, where Robert Cairns drunk-drove. Photo: Google
The petrol station in Hereford Road, Shrewsbury, where Robert Cairns drunk-drove. Photo: Google

Robert Cairns was found guilty in his absence after Telford Magistrates Court heard how he hit the pumps at the BP petrol station - now Esso - in Hereford Road, Shrewsbury, on February 6 last year.

A blood test later showed he had 471 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, well above the legal limit of 80 milligrammes, a result described by magistrates as 'they highest they'd come across'.

The court was hold how the 62-year-old drove a blue Peugeot Boxer van onto the forecourt shortly after 10pm and hit one of the pumps. He then reversed, before driving forward and hitting them again.

Anton Soosaipillai, a manager at the petrol station who was on duty at the time, recalled seeing Cairns driving the van slowly before speeding up and going towards pumps 11 and 12.

"He knocked it over completely," he said. "He reversed and again drove towards the pump and again knocked it down, completely on the floor."

Mr Soosaipillai told magistrates how he told the driver to stop before going to the van, where he removed the keys. He told the court Cairns "looked drunk" and was "not listening to me at all".

He then rang the police and his bosses to inform them of the incident.

Pc Simon Fearn told magistrates he arrived at 10.23pm to find the damaged van on the forecourt with the petrol pump on the floor. He said the Peugeot was at 90 degrees to the pumps, and noted that Cairns was "quite clearly heavily under the influence of alcohol".

"I'd go so far as to say he was paralytic," he added.

He then performed a roadside breath test on Cairns which gave a reading of 131 microgrammes in 100 millilitres of breath, almost four times the legal limit of 35 microgrammes.

Cairns, of Belle Vue Road, Shrewsbury, was arrested but fell unconscious in the police car en route to Shrewsbury police station, a journey Pc Fearn described as "quite short". Once there, officers were unable to rouse him so he was taken to Royal Shrewsbury Hospital where blood was later taken. Analysis later showed he had an alcohol level of 471 milligrammes.

Earlier on the court had been told that the defendant, who had previously pleaded not guilty, would not be attending the trial as he is currently receiving respite care at a nursing home elsewhere in the county after requiring hospital treatment. A letter from his GP said he was "probably unfit to attend at this time".

Finding Cairns guilty of driving a motor vehicle when alcohol level above limit in his absence, chairman of the bench Dean Firmin said the blood reading was "the highest we as a bench have ever come across", and described the driving as "erratic".

Mr Firmin decided to adjourn sentencing until July and issued an interim disqualification.

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