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Newchurch drink-driver could lose Army career
A ‘TOP’ gunner facing the loss of his Army career should keep his job after he was given a fine for drink-driving by magistrates who did not impose community service.
Soldier Matthew James Cooper, 26, who is due to go to Afghanistan in a month, would ordinarily have been given a community order for being three times the limit.
But, Burnley magistrates had been told, he would be dismissed from the forces if he received a penalty that stopped him carrying out his military duties.
Gunner Cooper, who serves in the Royal Horse Artillery, had been stopped by police in Bacup Road, Waterfoot, in the early hours of February 10. Officers had seen him driving ‘all over the road’ and at one point, he was said to have clipped the pavement as he passed the police car.
The defendant was accompanied to court by his commanding officer, who told the justices Cooper had come top of all the gunners he had recently done reports on and he was set for a long career in the Army.
Cooper, who is from Newchurch, but is based at Tidworth Garrison, Assaye Barracks, Tidworth, Hampshire, admitted driving with excess alcohol and no insurance. He was fined £415, with a £41 victim surcharge and £60 costs. The defendant was banned for two years.
Neil White, prosecuting, said Cooper gave a test showing 106 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.
He fully co-operated with the police when he was pulled over, said he knew he was over the limit and when he was arrested, said: “Sorry, mate.”
Phillip Turner, for Cooper, said he and his girlfriend had gone to a function in her car and he had had no intention of driving. He got behind the wheel to drive from Waterfoot to Newchurch. The solicitor continued: “He made the impulsive and, he accepts, entirely stupid decision, to drive the car that short distance.”
Mr Turner said Cooper was due to go to Afghanistan in four weeks time.
He went on: “If the court imposes a penalty that prevents him from carrying out his duties, not only will he not go to Afghanistan, it’s highly likely he will also be dismissed from the Army.”
Mr Turner added: “He still faces disciplinary proceedings in the Army and it’s still possible he might be dismissed.”