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100 mph driver was more than three times legal drug limit

By Court Reporter

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A Thurso motorist was more than three times the legal drug limit when police recorded him travelling at speeds of up to 100 mph, a sheriff has been told.

Kevin Stewart pleaded guilty to two charges under the Road Traffic Act and was banned from driving pending an appearance next month for sentencing.

Wick Sheriff Court heard last week that the 45-year-old’s speed was clocked by police officers carrying out checks on the Stainland straight on the A9 south of Thurso on October 30 last year.

Police pulled out from their speed-gun stance at a farm entrance and caught up with Stewart, who stopped after being signalled to do so.

Fiscal David Barclay told the court: “The accused appeared from his demeanour and dilated pupils to be under the influence of something."

A drug swipe produced a positive reading for cannabis.

An analysis of the sample revealed a reading of 6.5 mg for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol. The legal limit is 2 mg.

Describing the area, the fiscal said there were entrances from farms and houses on the Stainland straight and pedestrians on a verge, although they were not at risk. In addition, there were chevrons warning southbound drivers of a bend at the end of the straight, a known accident blackspot.

Solicitor Fiona MacDonald stressed that one of the charges had been reduced from dangerous driving to one of careless driving. The other charge related to drug driving.

She said: “Stewart accepts that his actions were, in his own words, ‘pure stupidity’."

Miss MacDonald said that, since the offences, Stewart’s driving licence had been suspended by the DVLA until he could be passed medical fit to drive.

Miss MacDonald said the accused suffered from a handful of medical conditions and took cannabis to ease the pain.

Stewart had been injured in a forklift accident which involved muscles from his stomach being grafted onto his right leg, as a result of which he required a walking stick to get about.

Miss MacDonald added that disqualification would cause Stewart “some difficulty”.

Sheriff Ian Miller raised a legal issue he described as unique, concerning the dangerous driving charge reduced to one of careless driving.

He said that, despite the reduction, the features narrated by the fiscal regarding the careless driving offence – such as the 100 mph speed, references to side roads and warning chevrons – were those that applied to a charge of dangerous driving.

The sheriff posed the question: “Has the court the power to decline to accept the narration of facts in support of an offence of careless driving when they relate to a charge of dangerous driving which is no longer before the court?

"If the court has the power to accept the narration, what does the exercise of that power do in terms of sentencing the accused?”

The issue generated a debate between Sheriff Miller, Mr Barclay and Miss MacDonald which failed to reach a conclusion.

Sentencing was suspended pending further investigation, prior to a further hearing on August 17.

Stewart was in the meantime made subject to an interim disqualification on the drug-driving charge.

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