Storrington GP caught over drink-drive limit


A judge has criticised police for keeping a doctor in custody for three nights after she was arrested for drink-driving.

GP Joanna Bailey, aged 58, of Mill Stream Medical Centre in Storrington, was seen driving erratically along Eggbuckland Road in Plymouth on January 10 at about 9pm.

She was more than three times over the drink-drive limit, and officers found an empty bottle of vodka and a half-empty bottle of Sauvignon Blanc wine in her car, the Pl,ymouth Herald reported.

Mrs Bailey was kept in custody until January 14, when she appeared before District Judge Ian Strongman at Plymouth Magistrates’ Court.

District Judge Strongman said Bailey’s detention seemed like ‘an unlawful policy’, telling her: “You should never have been kept in custody by police. The decision was quite wrong in my judgement.”

The court heard that Bailey was driving a Nissan Micra and was seen to swerve across the road on several occasions, at one point into the path of an oncoming vehicle, before coming to a halt.

Prosecutor Michael Brown said: “A witness said he felt people’s lives were being put at risk. The defendant said ‘I know I’m in trouble, I have been drinking.’”

Mrs Bailey was found to have 103mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. The limit is 35mg.

Patrick Somerville, for Bailey, said: “I made representations that there were no grounds whatsoever to keep Mrs Bailey in custody. My representations fell on deaf ears, and to put it lightly the custody sergeant and I did not see eye to eye.

“They seem to have a policy that if there is a reading over 100mg defendants will be kept in custody.”

Mr Somerville added: “There have been many consequences that follow from this case. It is embarrassing, it is humiliating, she is very remorseful, she is very upset. She has a strong support network and she is very fortunate to have the means to be able to refer herself to organisations that can assist her.”

District Judge Strongman told Mrs Bailey that he would normally impose a community order, but that he considered her time spent in custody to be punishment enough.

Mrs Bailey admitted one count of driving under the influence of alcohol and was banned from getting behind the wheel for 24 months.

A police spokesman said: “An arrested person can be held in police custody for 24 hours without charge, 36 hours if a Superintendent has authorised the detention or 96 hours if this was granted by a court.

“The woman was charged at 5.30pm on Saturday January 11 and went to the next available court on Monday morning.

“We would not comment on the judge’s remarks.”

A few days later Plymouth Police defended their right to detain Mrs Bailey.

A police spokesman said: “The reason to refuse bail in this case was to prevent the commission of a further offence, which was regarded as likely since the defendant was three times over the legal limit.”

l The County Times asked Mill Stream Medical Centre for a comment but had received no reply at the time of going to press. The centre’s website lists Dr Joanna Bailey among its doctors, but adds: ‘Dr Bailey is currently not practicing’.