Asthma to blame says breath-test fail man

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Asthma was the reason given by a man for his failure to give two roadside breath tests, Campbeltown Sheriff Court heard on Tuesday.

David Donnell, 38, of 10 Park Place, Newton Hill, Stonehaven, was working in Campbeltown for a transport company when the offence happened on July 20 this year.

Donnell denied that he had failed to cooperate with officers in the execution of their duty by taking part in a breath test when required by a uniformed officer who reasonably suspected he had been driving having consumed alcohol.

During the trial a constable told Sheriff Patrick Hughes that in the first test Donnell took a deep breath before blowing so hard and quickly that it failed to register and in the second he took short, shallow breaths and sucked.

The officer also said that when questioned Donnell gave his first name, admitted he had been driving but to every other question answered ‘no comment’.

Two police officers on duty were acting on information received from a member of the public when they approached a Mercedes lorry parked outside the Victoria Hall, Campbeltown; the engine was running and the lights were on, brake lights showing and Donnell was in the driver’s seat.

When asked to get out of the cab, the officers said he ‘stumbled out’ of the van; ‘we had to prop him up,’ the other added in their evidence. Both officers said Donnell smelled strongly of alcohol and his speech was slurred.

They both said Donnell continued to reply ‘no comment’ when taken to the town’s police station and his ‘obstructive and obtuse’ behaviour led to a decision not to test him on the breath test equipment there.

‘Because he would not answer any questions we had to class him as high risk while in custody, for his own safety,’ said one of the officers.

It was during his time in the cells that Donnell told the officers he was asthmatic and needed to use his inhalers; they collected some from Campbeltown Hospital for him.

Giving evidence Donnell said: ‘I gave them the information required.’

The fiscal told Sheriff Hughes: ‘His conduct towards the police, his conduct from the start was obstructive. This was someone not cooperating.’

Donnell’s defence agent pointed out that initially Donnell had been charged with the wrong offence: ‘Procedures police followed should cast doubt on their evidence,’ he said, adding, ‘a recognised procedure was not performed.’

Sheriff Hughes did not agree with this and found Donnell guilty, noted his uncooperative attitude and fined him £400 and added four points to his driving licence.