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Student, 21, avoids prison after drink driving near Bury St Edmunds

A student has escaped jail after crashing her parents’ car into a bollard outside Barrow Premier Stores – when almost four times above the alcohol limit.

Megan Russell, 21, of Simpson Way, Barrow, had 131mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath on December 12 when she was arrested on Brittons Way - the legal limit for alcohol is 35mg.

The University of East Anglia student was looking after her parents’ pets when she drove the Mercedes-Benz SLK 250 without insurance.

Premier Stores in Barrow (26399938)
Premier Stores in Barrow (26399938)

Today (Friday, January 10) she was sentenced in Ipswich Magistrates’ Court.

For the drink driving, Russell, wearing a Zara camel coat and woolly scarf, was given a community order, lasting two years, to complete 240 hours of unpaid work.

She was also ordered to pay £105 costs and a £90 victim surcharge. She was banned from driving for 30 months, to be reduced by 30 weeks on completion of a course.

For the no insurance, she was not given a separate penalty apart from having her driving licence endorsed.

Prosecutor Wayne Ablett said an officer found Russell trying to start the damaged car, despite a warning light flashing. Police had been called after another motorist heard a loud bang.

Russell, who studies education, did not give comment when interviewed by police and pleaded guilty to both charges on December 13.

Jeremy Kendall, representing Russell, said: “This event was just the tip of the iceburg. She was alone looking after the family pets when her parents were away and isolation was starting to tell.

“She had a university assignment and the stress was getting to her.

“I know she has since been seeking support from a number of organisations.”

Megan was also said to suffer with anxiety disorder and depression.

Mr Kendall said Russell had been taken to custody after the event and said the upcoming university term was an ‘opportunity to move on’.

Malcolm Hogarth, chair of magistrates, said: “You are not going to prison.

“It was a very high reading, nearly four times the limit, and there was danger to other road users. Drink driving with no insurance can carry a 12-week prison sentence.

“The mitigating factors are your guilty plea, your no previous offences and that you are now involved with support services.”

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