A woman crashed a car while suspected to be over the drink/drive limit just two months after being banned from the road for causing a fatal accident.

Jody Rachel Gillings was said to have had, “a momentary lapse in concentration” at the wheel of a Peugeot 206 on a left-hand bend, losing control and careering into the undergrowth and an area of trees, alongside the C128 Tanfield Lea to Kip Hill road, in Stanley, late on Sunday, September 3, last year.

Passenger, Jake Blakemore, 29, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from the front passenger seat and suffered catastrophic head injuries from which he was declared dead at the scene.

Durham Crown Court was told when emergency service personnel reached the scene a distressed Gillings, who had tried to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, said she had killed her friend, and it was, “her fault”.

Gillings, formerly of Beamish, near Stanley, admitted causing death by careless driving.

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The court, in March, heard that she had recently undergone medical treatment at the time of the fatal accident, in September, and, given her lack of previous motoring convictions, she received a community order with a four-month, 7pm to 7am, home curfew, as well as being banned from driving for a year.

But, the defendant, now of Wylam Road, Stanley, was back before the court, appearing via video link from Low Newton Prison, Durham, facing charges of driving while disqualified and without insurance, failing to provide a breath specimen and obstructing a police constable.

She admitted all the offences before a District Judge at magistrates' court, on May 13, only two days after the incident, and the case was sent to be sentenced at the crown court.

Sam Ponniah, prosecuting, told the sentencing hearing that those four offences were committed in Middleton-in-Teesdale, on Saturday May 11.

Mr Ponniah said Lydia Sunter, who was working at the village’s fish and chip shop, formed the view that customers Gillings and a male companion were under the influence of alcohol and unfit to drive.

Mr Ponniah said she did not want them to drive and deprived them of their car keys.

On shutting the premises she noticed the defendant and her companion at the nearby Forresters Hotel and both appeared to be drunk.

When she shut the shop, she noticed Gillings and her male associate were both in the nearby Forresters Hotel pub and both appeared drunk.

Despite that, both, however, managed to get into the car after the male forced entry, and Gillings took off the hand brake, causing the black Kia to roll down an incline, colliding with bollards.

They got out of the car and police attended, noting she was not insured to drive, while also being subject to the driving ban issued only two months earlier.

When officers went to arrest Gillings she acted aggressively and then refused to be handcuffed or provide a roadside breath test.

Having been placed in a police vehicle she kicked out with her leg, and the officer driving pulled over to check on her well-being.

Mr Ponniah said on arrival at a police station, Gillings provided one sample but refused to give the necessary second.

When interviewed later, she made no comment.

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Mr Ponniah then outlined to the court how her offending that day put her in breach of the community order imposed on March 14, for the fatal accident, for which there is still 270 days of the disqualification to run.

Caroline McGurk, in mitigation, said it would appear that while “impaired” to drive, it was not a high-level of impairment.

“I accept there were aggravating features, with her failure to comply with the disqualification, and the fact there was a collision, means it does fall into a custodial element."

Miss McGurk commented on probation and medical reports prepared for the court, which refer to her client's emotionally unstable personality disorder, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder relating to her difficult background.

“She does, however, take full responsibility for her actions and feelings of shame over the trouble she has caused everyone, and has intense feelings of guilt at the earlier offence.

“Her behaviour spiralled downwards and she began drinking heavily and taking crack cocaine, whereas she only previously used cannabis and to no great degree.

“She has been remanded in custody and used the time to reflect.

“During that time she has engaged well with the mental health team, but has had only one appointment with the drug and alcohol team and has voluntarily undertaken a ‘twelve-steps’ programme, with an aim of setting aside recidivism.

“It’s had a positive impact upon her and she has also taken advantage of educational opportunities made available to her, passing her maths exam and now being ready to sit an English exam.

“If released, she will have support for her mental health issues and would be suitable for a DRR (drug rehabilitation requirement) programme.

“If released, there is the prospect of rehabilitation due to her motivation and the steps taken in prison to be re-introduced to the community.”

Judge Peter Armstrong said, having spent more than a month in custody since her appearance before a District Judge at the magistrates’ court, he was “persuaded” to follow the suggested path to deal with the defendant.

He told Gillings: “The most serious aspect of your offending was that it was so soon after the tragic events with Mr Blakemore, due to your driving.

“You were banned from driving for 12 months and yet, not long after, here you are getting into a car again, no doubt over the limit, but to what extent is not precisely clear.

“I’ll proceed on the basis that it was lower rather than higher.

“You failed to provide a specimen, and weren’t insured, of course, and then kicked up a fuss with police and were obstructive.

“All in all, you ended up in court and the District Judge remands you in custody where you have been since May.

“It’s probably done you some good and brought you to your senses.

“Prison is not the place for you.

“I now think you ought to be out, being supported in the community.

“But, if you carry on like this, prison will be the place where you will be.”

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He imposed a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, during which Gillings will be subject to a six-month drug rehabilitation requirement, with monthly court assessments.

She must also take part in 20 days’ rehabilitation activity requirement, overseen by the Probation Service, and observe a four-month, 7pm to 7am, electronically-monitored home curfew.

Extending the total driving disqualification to three years, Judge Armstrong told Gillings: “Don’t go anywhere near a motor car driving seat otherwise you will be in real trouble.”