Police found a woman drunk behind the wheel of her car after she told her partner she was going to drive home to Ukraine to help her family.
Appearing before Swindon Magistrates’ Court this morning (20 April), Lesia Moscalenco, 39, pleaded guilty to being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle.
Pauline Lambert, prosecuting, said the woman was reported to the police by her partner – who suspected she’d been drinking when she left home telling him she was headed to Ukraine.
Officers located her four hours later, in the Orbital Shopping Park car park, off Thamesdown Drive, Swindon, where she was sitting in the driver’s seat whilst “visibly intoxicated”.
Moscalenco told the officers that she was intending to drive to Ukraine, but instead, she was taken to custody where she provided a sample of breath measuring 102 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.
Following her arrest on 10 March, she was charged with being drunk in charge of her Ford Fiesta rather than drink driving – because there was no evidence to prove she’d driven there intoxicated.
Luke Jameson, defending, said his client was suffering “significant distress” over the war in Ukraine – with her mother, cousins, uncle and other relatives living in Kyiv.
He told of how some of her friends, who were neighbours when she lived at home, were killed during the conflict and this “exacerbated how she’s felt”.
“She tells me she drunk after she drove and stayed in the car for a number of hours, she did not drink and drive to that location”, Mr Jameson said.
He added: “The roadside reading was 63, which supports [the claims]. The number was increasing as time went on.
“She told the officers that she was intending to drive to Ukraine, but she was upset at the time and did not intend to, it’s not something she was really going to do.”
Mr Jameson said that Moscalenco had helped arrange aid to send to Ukraine and helped her mum and partner’s dad evacuate the war-torn country to Swindon, where they now reside with unrelated hosts.
She is medicated for anxiety and depression.
Magistrates acknowledged the “great stress” of “watching what is happening at home”, but said they could not ignore the risk to other road users or pedestrians around her.
Moscalenco, of Dales Close, Ash Brake, Swindon, was fined £120 and ten points were imposed on her driving licence – meaning any further offending is likely to result in disqualification. She must also pay prosecution costs of £85 and a £34 surcharge.
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