Drink-drive reading was one of the highest ever

Richard Farrer was almost five-and-a-half times the limit
Richard Farrer was almost five-and-a-half times the limit

An East Neuk man caught with one of the highest drink-drive readings ever recorded has avoided a jail sentence.

Richard Farrer (44) was so drunk that he can’t remember being in the car or driving it, Cupar Sheriff Court has heard.

He was almost five-and-half times the legal limit when he got behind the wheel on October 31 last year.

Farrer, of 8F Cunzie Street, Anstruther, was given a community payback order and told to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work - the maximum that can be imposed - when he appeared for sentence before Sheriff Charles Macnair.

He was also banned from driving for 32 months - but the Sheriff rejected the Crown’s application for forefeiture of the car after hearing that it belonged to his mother and was used by his brother for her benefit as she was not fit to drive herself.

Sheriff Macnair told Farrer that he considered four months in prison to be an appropriate sentence, but because he was a first offender it would have to be reduced to a level which he was unable to impose under sentencing guidelines.

He warned him that if he breached the community payback order he would ‘almost certainly’ go to jail.

Farrer had previously admitted driving in St Andrews Road, Crail, with a breath/alcohol reading of 192mcg, when the legal limit is 35mcg.

His solicitor, Douglas Williams, told the court that he had been suffering ‘insecurities’ about his employment, which was ironic as he’d now lost his job as a result of the offence.

“He doesn’t have any particular recollection of being in the car or driving it,” said Mr Williams.

“That clearly is a public safety issue and it was through sheer good fortune that there was no third party involved.

“He has had great difficulty dealing with the whole issue but he is extremely remorseful.

“He is concerned about the publicity that has been brought on his mother. He was the prime user of the car but it was bought on her behalf and she shouldn’t be punished because of her son.”

Passing sentence, Sheriff Macnair told Farrer: “This is the highest reading I have ever seen and is completely inexcusable.”

The highest-ever level recorded in Scotland was in December 2011, when a 42-year-old woman from Hamilton, Lanarkshire, was caught behind the wheel with 210mcg of alcohol in her breath – six times over the legal limit.

The Sheriff’s decision to spare her a jail sentence and impose a community-based order was heavily criticised by anti drink-drive campaigners, and she was found dead in her home a few months later.