Drink drive Gaelic singer nar­rowly avoids jail term


The Oban Times - - News - EMMA CRICH­TON ecrich­ton@oban­times.co.uk

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

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