Galashiels drink-driver banned for two years and fined £250

Channel Street in Galashiels.
Channel Street in Galashiels.

A man has been banned from driving for two years after a rarely-used defence claiming he was not responsible for being under the influence of drugs was rejected at Selkirk Sheriff Court.

John Tunnicliffe, 53, was spotted slumped over the steering wheel of his car outside a chemist’s shop in Channel Street, Galashiels, while the town centre was busy with children attending a Christmas parade.

He failed manual drug tests at Galashiels police station, and toxicology reports showed he had traces of prescribed drugs in his system.

Tunnicliffe was subsequently charged with driving while unfit through drink or drugs on the afternoon of December 2.

He lodged a special defence of non-insane automatism claiming he was not conscious of his actions due to medication.

Giving evidence, Tunnicliffe claimed that his coffee had been spiked with prescribed drugs by a woman staying at his Hawthorn Road home in Galashiels earlier that day.

Tunnicliffe said he felt fit to drive at around 3pm, but he suddenly felt drowsy outside the chemist’s shop while waiting for another woman to pick up her methadone prescription, and that was when he was spotted slumped over the steering wheel.

Procurator fiscal Graham Fraser pointed out that Tunnicliffe was able to recall the procedures carried out at Galashiels police station in great detail and described his defence as a “tissue of lies”.

Sheriff Peter Paterson agreed and rejected Tunnicliffe’s defence.

In addition to being disqualified for two years, he was fined £250.