Crash driver was 16 times ke­tamine limit

Stockport Express - - Front Page - AN­DREW BARDSLEY

AN ENGI­NEER has nar­rowly avoided jail after crash­ing into a row of parked cars with three dif­fer­ent il­le­gal drugs in his sys­tem.

Calum McCul­lough, 24, from Stock­port, had taken co­caine, ke­tamine and M-Cat – a syn­thetic stim­u­lant – be­fore the smash.

Manch­ester mag­is­trates court heard how McCul­lough, a project engi­neer, was try­ing to re­verse out of a road in Dids­bury, when he crashed into seven parked cars.

The court was told that he’d had an ar­gu­ment with his girl­friend, and the pair have since split up.

Neigh­bours called the po­lice, and of­fi­cers found him ‘in­ca­pac­i­tated’ be­hind the wheel on May 12.

They later dis­cov­ered he had three dif­fer­ent types of drug in his sys­tem, co­caine, M-Cat and ke­tamine.

He was over the legally pre­scribed limit for all three drugs, pros­e­cu­tors said.

Blood tests for co­caine re­vealed McCul­lough had 14 mi­cro­grammes per litre of blood, when the le­gal ‘im­pair­ment’ limit is 10.

His read­ing for M-Cat was 389 mi­cro­grammes per litre of blood, more than seven times the limit of 50.

And his read­ing for ke­tamine was 330 mi­cro­grammes per litre of blood, when the le­gal limit is 20, which is 16-and-a-half times the le­gal limit.

McCul­lough, who was said to have used drugs on a daily ba­sis, said he took more than his usual amount prior to the crash.

The court was told he has two pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions, both for pos­sess­ing il­le­gal drugs.

McCul­lough was charged with three counts of drug-driv­ing, driv­ing with no in­sur­ance and fail­ing to no­tify a change of ad­dress.

He pleaded guilty be­fore mag­is­trates.

At a sen­tenc­ing hear­ing, McCul­lough re­ceived a three-month prison sen­tence, sus­pended for 18 months.

He must also com­plete 200 hours of un­paid work and com­plete a 12 month drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gram. He was also banned from driv­ing for 30 months.

Damian Mullarkey, de­fend­ing, said: “What I can’t get away from here is the three dif­fer­ent and sep­a­rate drugs in his sys­tem at the time of driv­ing.

“I’m no math­e­ma­ti­cian but I have worked out he was at least 12 or 13 times the limit on both drugs.”

He told mag­is­trates that McCul­lough’s job is well paid, and means he is ‘re­quired to travel in­ter­na­tion­ally on a fre­quent ba­sis.’

“He can af­ford, rightly or wrongly, to fund that habit,” Mr Mullarkey said.

But he has in­curred ‘sig­nif­i­cant’ debts, and hadn’t told his em­ploy­ers of his con­vic­tion, the court heard.

Mr Mullarkey said his client, who was said to have taken drugs to cope with stress at work, was ‘pet­ri­fied’ of them find­ing out.

The lawyer added: “He is in a good job. He has very good prospects.

“He has a ca­reer for life if you per­mit him to con­tinue his em­ploy­ment.

“This is not some­body who is a co­caine ad­dict or a heroin ad­dict.

“He has an ad­dic­tion to what ap­pears to be recre­ational drugs.”

Ap­peal­ing for a sus­pended sen­tence to be im­posed, Mr Mullarkey said McCul­lough, of Dids­bury Road, Stock­port, would ‘lose ev­ery­thing’ if he were to be jailed.

Sen­tenc­ing, chair of the bench Michael Dun­ston said: “The peo­ple of Manch­ester need pro­tec­tion against this type of drug­driv­ing.

“You are very lucky that peo­ple weren’t killed. This sort of be­hav­iour won’t be tol­er­ated.”

He added: “You have been ex­tremely for­tu­nate to­day.”

In 2015, ,the government in­tro­duced new laws to tackle drug driv­ing. The new laws set out the ac­cept­able lev­els of eight il­le­gal drugs.

Th­ese lim­its were set at a low level, so cases where a driver claimed they had been ac­ci­den­tally ex­posed to the drug could be ruled out.

Ear­lier this year, it was re­vealed that about 25,000 mo­torists across Eng­land and Wales had been caught in the past three years since the new laws were in­tro­duced.

If driv­ers are pulled over and of­fi­cers be­lieve they are un­fit to drive be­cause due to tak­ing drugs, they can be ar­rested and taken to a po­lice sta­tion for tests.

●●Calum McCul­lough

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