Dad was nearly four times the limit driving to McDonalds with his three kids

Graeme Iain Duerden. Credit: North Yorkshire Police
Graeme Iain Duerden. Credit: North Yorkshire Police

A father who attempted to drive his three children to McDonalds while nearly four times the drink-drive limit has been spared jail.

Graeme Iain Duerden, 47 of Herdwick Drive, Worcestershire, was living with his parents in Knaresborough when his three children came to visit him during the August Bank Holiday.

The court heard that on August 29, police stopped Duerden on Harrogate Road, Spofforth to discover that he was nearly four times over the limit, with his three children in the back of the car.

Duerden appeared at Harrogate Magistrates Court on Thursday and pleaded guilty to one count of driving while above the alcohol limit and another count of criminal damage costing under £5,000.

The court heard that other drivers had become concerned about the way Duerdin was driving and attempted to get him to pull over, but Duerdin responded with rude finger gestures.

Other road users contacted police, who arrived on the scene and stopped Duerdin at around 1.30pm, but not before he attempted to tear the windscreen wiper from another car, causing £60 worth of damage.

In a roadside breath test, Mr Duerden blew 121 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood but further tests at the police station showed his alcohol level was as high as 123 micrograms.

Duerden's Probation Officer, Mr Wilson told the court that Duerdin had been struggling to hold his marriage of 14 years together and was now residing with his parents.

Mr Wilson added that Duerden said his life had 'taken a turn for the worst' after losing his job.

Mr Wilson said: "On the bank holiday his three children came to stay with him.

"The night before the incident, Mr Duerden had an argument with his father which tipped him over the edge and lead him to turn to alcohol.

He added: "Mr Duerden was on the way to McDonalds with his children when the incident occurred.

"But his mental state combined with alcohol meant all rational thoughts went out the window."

Representing Duerden, Peter Minikin told the court that Duerden was a 'professional man' who had worked as a town planner until he lost his job in November 2017 following a work tribunal.

After losing his job Mr Minikin said that what had tended to be 'a gin and tonic or two' had developed and lead Duerden into depression and anxiety.

Since the incident, Mr Minikin said that Duerden had sought to address his alcoholism issues which he had realised he was 'using as a crutch'.

Mr Minikin said: "He is deeply ashamed, he is effectively a man of good character, a professional who is looking for future employment. But he is more ashamed of the impact this has on his family and the impact it has had on his children."

Deciding Duerden's sentence, Chair Paul Gregory said: "We understand some of the difficulties in life you are having but our main concern is the protection of the public and you were nearly four times the legal limit, aggravated by the fact you had three children in the car at the time and have caused criminal damage.

Mr Gregory said that the court did consider the offence serious enough for a custodial sentence but decided to suspend Duerden's 12 week jail sentence for a period of 12 months.

Mr Gregory told Duerden that if he does not commit another crime in the next year he would not face time behind bars, but that another incident in that time could see him serve even longer sentence.

Duerden was also disqualified from driving for 30 months, ordered to complete 25 rehabilitation days and made to pay £60 in compensation for the criminal damage as well as £200 in court costs.