A MAN being sentenced for drink driving falsely claimed he was grieving after the death of his seriously ill partner, in a desperate bid to keep his licence.

Although Graham Nelson’s lie pulled the wool over the eyes of the bench, who in sympathy for his ‘plight’ passed an absolute discharge and allowed him to keep his licence due to special circumstances, the truth emerged thanks to the vigilance of the clerk in the case at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court.

Durham Crown Court heard it arose after Nelson was pulled up on suspicion of drink driving in Victoria Road, Darlington, at 1.27am on June 27, 2019.

Jane Waugh, prosecuting, said he failed a roadside breath test and later provided further samples giving readings of 77 and 76mg of alcohol, compared to the legal limit for driving of 35mg.

Miss Waugh said Nelson told police: “That’s mad”, but made no mention of any medical emergency causing him to drive unexpectedly at that time.

On his first appearance before magistrates, a fortnight later, a form submitted on his behalf mentioned his partner having had a medical emergency as the reason for him driving.

He claimed she passed away on July 6, 2019, and supportive documents were provided showing she suffered with cystic fibrosis, detailing her medication.

Miss Waugh said a letter was submitted claiming he had never driven with excess alcohol previously, which was untrue as he has two past convictions for drink driving and one for failing to provide a breath specimen.

He maintained his account at the sentencing hearing on August 1, last year, claiming his partner called him as she could not breathe and, as he was unable to get a taxi, he was going by car to her house.

Miss Waugh said during the hearing he was visibly upset and crying, convincing the magistrates who said he should seek counselling, passing the absolute discharge and waiving the mandatory disqualification.

After the hearing, as the clerk reviewed her notes, she noticed photos of the medication submitted in support of Nelson’s case showed a prescription date several weeks after he claimed his partner had died.

Police were informed and, when arrested, Nelson said he would have lost his car and job if banned, and “panicked”, coming up with the story.

Nelson, 40, of Pintail Close, Darlington, admitted perjury.

Michele Turner, mitigating, conceded his actions were “particularly cruel and distasteful”, but said his partner does suffer cystic fibrosis and, as he is her main carer, she would suffer if he was jailed.

Judge Ray Singh said the defendant has claimed “exceptional circumstances” previously, on oath, to fool a court.

He said it had to be met with a deterrent sentence, but as he does have sympathy with his partner, he reduced it to six months. Nelson was also banned him from driving for two years and three months.