Drink drive Gaelic singer narrowly avoids jail term
AWARD-WINNING MUSICIAN FOUND SLUMPED OVER WHEEL ALMOST SEVEN TIMES OVER LIMIT
AN AWARD-WINNING musician narrowly avoided jail at Fort William sheriff court this week, after she admitted driving while almost seven times over the alcohol limit.
Mary Ann Turner, better known by her maiden name of Kennedy, drove to her home village of Ardgour from Inverness on the afternoon of August 27 and pulled into a layby just metres from her home to drink a bottle of wine, before attempting to continue her journey, the court heard on Tuesday (September 15).
The 47-year- old, who lives at Watercolour Music, a production company and recording studio she shares with her husband, was fined £1,300 and banned from driving for four years. Turner, who has won gold medals at the Royal National Mòd for her traditional Scottish music, had pleaded guilty at a previous hearing, but sentencing had been deferred for background reports.
Procurator fiscal, Michelle Molley, told the court that Turner had been found slumped over her steering wheel, with her car partially blocking the road, four and a half miles north of Ardgour on the A861. Ms Molley also said her driving had been so erratic, a passing man stopped another approaching driver to warn him of the danger.
She said: ‘ When the man who had been warned approached the car it was stationary, partially blocking the road, and he recognised the accused.
‘He attempted to communicate with the accused but she was slumped over the steering wheel, smelling of alcohol and responding in an incoherent fashion. He assisted her into the rear of his own vehicle and phoned the emergency services.’
When a test was carried out by police, Turner was found to have 148 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, almost seven times the limit of 22 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. She also pleaded guilty to driving without insurance, as it was her husband’s car she committed the offence in.
This was Turner’s second drink driving offence, after being previously convicted in August 2005.
Defending solicitor, Clare Russell, said her client had received upsetting news on her way home from Inverness, so stopped in Fort William to buy a bottle of wine with the intention of drinking it at home, but received another upsetting phone call shortly afterwards, when she decided to pull in and drink the wine.
She added: ‘ She [ Turner] works extremely hard and is well known in the Gaelic music community. She is extremely sorry for her actions. This was the first time she had driven since her last offence in 2005.’
During sentencing, sheriff Richard Davidson said he considered a prison sentence but instead chose to fine Turner.
He also refused the fiscal’s request to have the £11,000 car seized as it is the property of her husband.
He said: ‘ That this should happen on the first day you have driven seems unlikely.
‘The bottom line is you were close to your home under the influence, another five minutes of driving and you would have been home.
‘It’s bad enough to have one [drink driving] conviction never mind manage another one, although there was a gap of 10 years. You were a danger to yourself and a danger to anyone else using the road.’
FINED AND BANNED: Mary Ann Turner, also known as Kennedy, drove almost seven times over the alcohol limit