A CARER later found to be three times over the legal drink-drive limit pretended to be unconscious as police tried to breathalyse her, a court heard.

Kim Gibson, 45, of the The Annums, Bowes, crashed into a lorry as she crossed the central reservation of the A66 after drinking vodka.

She pleaded guilty to failing to provide a specimen of breath for analysis, when she appeared before magistrates in Newton Aycliffe.

When police arrived at the scene of the accident she was crying and clutching a teddy bear and they asked her to move to a safer place, away from the carriageway.

Ami Todd, prosecuting, said: "She was asked to move to the police vehicle because she was in a dangerous location on the carriageway.

"She laid on the ground and feigned an illness.

"The police officer could smell liquor but she remained unresponsive. An ambulance was called, first aid administered and a nurse who was passing stopped and checked her over and said she was fine.

"A doctor and paramedic arrived and they both thought that Mrs Gibson was well, and suspected she was feigning illness.

"Both said they could smell alcohol on her breath.

"She was placed in a police car but feigned fainting. She was lifted out of the police vehicle and lifted on to a trolley. She remained unresponsive and was transported to hospital.

"An officer remained with the defendant. The doctor said Mrs Gibson was fit and well and she could do a breath test."

Police attempted to breathalyse Gibson but she continually gave false readings because she was not blowing into the device properly. She was warned twice that she could be charged with failing to provide a specimen as she had been medically examined and found to be fit and well.

When she finally gave a reading she was found to be almost three times over the drink-drive limit.

Miss Todd said: "She was taken to Darlington police station. She said 'I am so sorry, I have drunk a lot of vodka, I knew I would fail the test'."

She told officers she had had a row with her son and he had disowned her.

However, she then failed to provide officers with a proper breath sample for forensic analysis, which officers need to take after defendants have failed a road side breath test.

Gibson's solicitor Peter Furness said: "The evening beforehand Mrs Gibson had a very unpleasant argument with one of her sons over a personal matter.

"She sadly reacted by drinking vodka quite substantially.

"She is a carer and the next day she had to drive in the afternoon from Bowes to Richmond. As you have heard she had a collision with an HGV exiting the central reservation.

"It could have been a lot worse. She was shaken and upset. Her car had been spun round.,

"She had been involved in a road traffic collision and was upset thereafter. I hardly think the authorities would have taken this lady to hospital if she was pulling their leg."

He said Gibson was a full carer for a 74-year-old lady in Richmond and was paid by Richmondshire District Council.

"She needs transport because she has to get from Bowes to Richmond," he said.

"She is going to have to get to Barnard Castle somehow to get a bus. Every day of this disqualification will be a hardship for this woman."

He said her car had been written off, and because it was on hire purchase she still owed £2,000.

Magistrates took her guilty plea into account and she was banned from driving for 17 months, fined £269 and ordered to pay costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £30.