‘Car park not a public place’ – Letchworth tennis coach given warning about drink driving but escapes ban

The case against Letchworth tennis coach Charlotte Gibbons dismissed by Stevenage Magistrates' Court

The case against Letchworth tennis coach Charlotte Gibbons dismissed by Stevenage Magistrates' Court. - Credit: Archant

A Letchworth tennis coach has been given a stern warning about drink driving – but escaped a ban after a court decided she had not been in a public place when police breathalysed her.

The case against Charlotte Gibbons, 27, was dismissed by Stevenage magistrates but chairman of the bench Kathryn Greenwood said: “We still take drink driving cases very seriously.

“She could have killed somebody, or lots of people, that night if she had been in a public place or on a road. We do not want her to feel that she has got away with anything.”

The court heard that Ms Gibbons, of Middlemarch in Stotfold, had been drinking prosecco from 8pm until 2am at Letchworth Sports and Tennis Club’s 10th anniversary event.

Police called to the Muddy Lane club at about 2.20am on the morning of Saturday, June 21, smelt alcohol on her breath and asked what she had been doing.

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She told them she had moved her parked red Mazda 3 car off the grass because she was worried it would get stuck if it rained.

As she did this she hit a parked car, stopped and took a photo of the number plate and damage so she could contact its owners the next day.

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A breath test showed she was over the limit and a further test at Stevenage police station confirmed the result.

In the car she told officers: “I feel like I am being punished. I even waited for the police, I have done nothing wrong.”

Under questioning PC Keith Alison admitted that the case was borderline but arrested Ms Gibbons on the advice of his sergeant.

Prosecuting barrister David Harris argued that the car park had no barriers or signs and was used by members of the public.

But Ms Gibbon’s lawyer, Simon Collingham, successfully cited a number of case law trials, including one where a man was found not guilty of drinking driving on a university campus car park, which was much bigger than the tennis club’s.

He also argued that at that time of night the club was not being used by members of the public.

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