A DRIVER who admitted being over the alcohol limit told a court he was assaulted after stumbling into a cocaine deal in a pub toilet.
Alex Derekis, 28, of North End Road, Yapton, was sentenced at Worthing Magistrates’ Court yesterday (September 24) after police caught him drink driving in Chichester city centre on September 4.
However his defence counsel, David Bathurst, claimed the construction worker had just been assaulted in the toilets at Trents bar in South Street, Chichester, which was what led him to get in his car and drive away.
“As he entered the toilet, he stumbled on a number of individuals who were dealing openly with cocaine,” said Mr Bathurst.
“This came as a complete shock to my client. He didn’t think this sort of thing went on Chichester.
“It came as a complete shock to him that this sort of thing should be going on in a cathedral city.”
He claimed Derekis’ presence was ‘not welcomed’ in the toilet and he was punched in the mouth, drawing blood.
Mr Bathurst said Derekis had driven into Chichester with his girlfriend for an evening out but was intending to leave his car in the city overnight.
Prosecutor Martina Sherlock said police parked in Theatre Lane spotted Derekis driving without lights on down the wrong side of the road and stopped him in Market Avenue.
“They say his eyes were glazed and they noted he was swearing,” Ms Sherlock told the court. “He claimed that he had been assaulted that evening. He was taken to custody where he was required to provide further samples.”
His alcohol level was recorded as 79 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.
Mr Bathurst said his client was not thinking straight after the alleged assault, which is why he did not inform bar staff and instead left the bar and got straight in his car.
Chairman of the magistrates Nick Myers told Derekis they would choose to believe his account of what happened.
“We do understand and we will take your word for it that you were under a certain amount of stress because of the incident that happened in the pub,” he told him.
“It doesn’t alter the fact that you were driving while over the legal limit and your standard of driving was not acceptable.”
Derekis was banned from driving for 17 months and handed a £120 fine, along with other court costs making a total fine of £375.
Trents is owned by the Greene King brewery.
A spokeswoman for the pub said: “This is a safe and friendly pub with a trouble-free past, and as any well-run pub we have a zero tolerance policy on the use of illegal substances on our premises, which is strictly policed by our team. While we had no reports of any issues or complaints on the day in question, it would be inappropriate for us to comment on individual court cases.”
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