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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

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Suspended sentence for remorseful Barrow drink driver

A BARROW woman who was more than two times the drink drive limit with children in her car has avoided a prison sentence.

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Helen Kennedy leaving Furness Magistrates’ Court in Barrow. February 13 2014

Helen Jane Kennedy, 38, was handed a 12-week suspended sentence at Furness Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday February 25.

Kennedy was found by a taxi driver after she crashed her car, with two young children in it, into traffic lights near the Dock Museum in Barrow on January 30.

When police breathalysed her they found she had 98mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath – the legal limit is 35mg.

The children were found in their pyjamas at the road side in a “distressed” state, though after being checked at Furness General Hospital it was found one child was uninjured and another had a bruised sternum.

Mrs Lisa Hine, prosecuting, said: “Throughout the police interview she said it was shameful and had been stupid.

“She said she’d had a terrible 12 months.”

The court was told how in the past year Kennedy’s former partner revealed he was gay. Her father died leaving her as carer for her sick mother, and both Kennedy and her partner lost their jobs.

Mr Trystan Roberts, defending, said: “I’ve been doing this job for a long time and it’s been some time since I’ve seen this level of remorse. There have been some difficulties. She’s been trying to deal with them herself. Late last year she managed to find some work. But on December 23 she lost her job.

“Things were very difficult and she went to the doctor and said ‘I need some help’ and effectively broke down.”

Kennedy was then put on anti-depressants.

The court heard she had not drank for six months before the incident, when she bought a 500ml bottle of vodka, four cans of Carlsberg and some cider, which she shared with her partner that evening.

The court was told how Kennedy remembered nothing until she hit the traffic lights.

Mrs Catherine Alexander, presiding magistrate, sentenced Kennedy, of Ferry Road, Barrow, to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months.

She was also ordered to carry out 100 hours unpaid work and disqualified from driving for 24 months.

“She was ordered to pay an £80 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.

Mrs Catherine Alexander, presiding magistrate, said: “This was an extremely serious offence and you could have killed the children or any other people around you.

“You must accept that you have a problem with drink, this is what’s caused that.”

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