Thetford drink-driver was ‘stressed’ about family and work, court hears

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A Thetford dentist who got behind the wheel while three times the drink drive limit had been suffering from personal and work-related problems, a court has heard.

Gordon Van Rooyen, 58, of Icknield Way, appeared before magistrates in Bury St Edmunds on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Ian Devine, prosecuting, explained Van Rooyen was driving to collect his wife and mother in law from Thetford railway station when his Honda Accord was involved in a collision with another car in Bury Road.

Mr Devine said the bumper of the other car sustained minor damage in the incident, in which the other driver saw Van Rooyen pull out at the junction with Icknield Way without seeming to notice her car.

Police attended the scene and noted Van Rooyen smelt of alcohol. He consented to a breath test and blew a reading of 114 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath - more than three times the legal limit.

Mr Devine added: “The problem here is the high level of alcohol.”

Mitigating, Charles Snelling said the incident was ‘out of character’ for Van Rooyen.

“He was having some problems at work at the time, although he does not ordinarily drink,” he said.

Mr Snelling said Van Rooyen had not expected to drive that evening, but received a call from his wife and mother in law who had returned from Ireland that day asking him to collect them from the station.

Probation service officer Marie Bluett said Van Rooyen had ‘no intention’ of drinking and driving that evening. However his wife feared his mother in law, who was unwell at the time, may not be able to walk the distance necessary to get a taxi as the pair normally would have done.

“He is very ashamed of what has happened, as he has never been in trouble with the law before,” she said.

Ms Bluett said Van Rooyen had been ‘more stressed than usual’ due to changing circumstances at work and had struggled to cope with the deaths of his parents.

Sentencing him to a 28-month driving ban, John Askers said the ‘high level of alcohol’ was a concern.

“If you have got problems with the issues we have heard about, then these are the people you should talk to,” he said.

Mr Askers also made Van Rooyen the subject of a six month community order and imposed a curfew from 7pm to 7am for eight weeks.