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Drink driving mum who ‘almost killed’ couple while breaking lockdown avoids jail

A drink driving mum who ‘almost killed’ a married couple while flouting lockdown rules has been spared jail.

Samantha Pye, 24, drove her Ford Fiesta at around 70mph in a 40mph zone, before losing control at a roundabout and hitting a kerb.

Dog walker Stephen Smith described Pye waving her hands in the air as her swerving car nearly hit him and his wife.

Pye – who was already banned from the road for drug driving – admitted dangerous driving, drink driving and driving while disqualified.

But she was not jailed due to the potential harm sending her to prison would have on her four-year-old boy.

Liverpool Crown Court heard Pye, of Holly Bank Street in St Helens, was fined £120 and hit with a 12-month ban for drug driving in December.

But she got behind the wheel of her car on April 21, when around one and a half times over the limit.

Iain Criddle, prosecuting, said police spotted her driving towards them along Carr Mill in St Helens, at around 7.20pm.

They estimated she was doing 70mph and she appeared to lose control, so they followed her car.

Pye was around 200 yards ahead when she again lost control, at the roundabout with Woodlands Road.

Mr Criddle said: ‘They followed the vehicle and found the car in the middle of the road with damage to the front offside door tyre and the rim.’

‘They saw the defendant standing at the driver’s door. She was slurring her words and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol.’

Police noted there were a lot of pedestrians around and spoke to Mr Smith, who described his fear.

Mr Criddle said: ‘He saw the driver waving her hands in the air as the car was travelling towards him and the vehicle swerving.

‘He said that the wheels turned as if to negotiate the roundabout, but the vehicle went straight on and collided with the kerb.

‘He said that he genuinely thought his life was in danger and he thought he was going to be hit by the vehicle at the time.

‘He said he was out walking with his dog at the time and he didn’t expect a car to almost kill him.’

Pye registered 52 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 micrograms.

The mum later told police she ‘didn’t remember much and she had a bit to drink’ and gave ‘no comment’ to many questions in an interview.

Pye, who has five previous convictions for eight offences, was fined £100 on April 23 after she admitted failing to comply with emergency coronavirus restrictions.

Carmel Wilde, defending, said Pye turned to drink and drugs because she suffered domestic violence.

She said: ‘She is well aware that the court will take a dim view of those who disregard court orders, particularly given she was a disqualified driver.

‘However, she has displayed in my submission genuine remorse to the
author of the pre-sentence report.’

Ms Wilde said a social worker also found Pye remorseful and willing to work with agencies to change.

She added: ‘In the defendant’s words, she was in a bad place at the time, particularly anxious at the time, and clearly there are underlying issues.

‘It’s a vicious circle if I can put it that way, she hasn’t addressed those previous domestic violence incidents, which has led to her taking drink and drugs, and making foolish decisions to drive in these circumstances.

‘The defendant has been engaging with substance misuse workers since June 2019 and demonstrates a strong desire and motivation to make positive changes in her life for herself and also [knows] her focus should be on her young four-year-old son.’

Ms Wilde said fortunately the dangerous driving was over a short distance and no one was injured.

She said there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation and Pye was assessed as a low risk of re-offending.

Ms Wilde added: ‘In my submission immediate custody would result in harmful impact on her dependants.’

Judge Neil Flewitt, QC, said he had no doubt Pye was told in December that if she drove while disqualified she would risk being jailed.

He said: ‘Not only did you drive during that period, you drove dangerously and with excess alcohol in your system.’

The judge said she put ‘at least one pedestrian in real fear that he would be hit and badly injured, if not killed, by your vehicle’.

He said: ‘I hope that description brings home to you just how serious this combination of offences is.’

However, the judge accepted Pye was still relatively young and had endured ‘a difficult life’.

He said: ‘I recognise that you’ve been the victim of domestic violence, you’ve turned to drugs and alcohol and you are at last beginning with the assistance of the authorities to address those issues.

‘I’ve seen a letter from the charity that’s working with you and with whom you’re cooperating and I’ve also seen and I’m particularly impressed by the letter from your social worker, that indicates that you have a strong bond with your son and that you are working hard to put these issues behind you.

‘I want you to understand that there will come a point at which however hard you’re working behind the scenes and whatever harm it may cause to your son to be separated from you, if you keep committing offences, you will eventually go immediately to prison.’

Judge Flewitt sentenced Pye to 12 months in jail, suspended for 18 months, noting: ‘Immediate custody would have a significant harmful impact on your young son.’

He imposed a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement, a three-month home curfew from 7pm to 7am daily, and a three-year driving ban.

The judge warned her not to breach the orders, adding: ‘It won’t just be you who suffers then – it will be your son as well.’