Drink drive lawyer loses mitigation privacy bid

A solicitor who specialises in road traffic cases tried to stop the media finding out details of his mitigation when he appeared in court today and admitted drink-driving.

Ian Owen was seen staggering about after getting out of the car and at first refused to give police his personal details or confirm he had been driving the vehicle, Blackpool magistrates were told.

Owen tried to prevent the press from hearing his mitigation details, insisting that a written statement he handed over in court for magistrates to read should remain private.

Owen, 37, of High Street, Delph, Oldham, admitted driving with excess alcohol, was disqualified from driving for 18 months, fined £600 and ordered to pay £60 costs and a £15 vicctims’ surcharge.

Martine Connah, prosecuting, said that at 3.30am on May 30 a security doorman at the Club Sanuk nightclub saw a black Audi convertible which had a severely damaged front and was making a hissing noise being parked on Springfield Road, North Shore, Blackpool.

Owen got out, locked the car and staggered into a nearby alley.

The doorman believed he was drunk and flagged down a passing police patrol.

Connah said: “The defendant refused to give his personal details or confirm that he had been driving the car.”

A breath test showed that Owen was twice over the limit with 70 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit is 35.

Owen, who had no previous convictions, initially said there was little he wanted to say in open court and handed in a statement of mitigation for magistrates to read.

When journalists in court objected, saying that this would be tantamount to the court sitting in private and that his statement should either be read out or they should be given copies, Owen told the magistrates: “The mitigation I have put forward is for the magistrates, not for the recreation of others.”

He then agreed to say something in open court, and told magistrates:

“I’m utterly ashamed at being here. It is acutely embarrassing. This will never happen again.”

The website of Ian Owen Solicitors of 9 Manchester Chambers, Oldham, offers expertise in a number of legal areas including traffic offences, and states: “Whether you are being prosecuted for speeding or alcohol related matters, we can offer high quality advocacy in any Magistrates’ Court anywhere in England and Wales.”

David Graham, owner of Blackpool-based Watsons’s news agency, which covered the case, said: “Mr Owen has surely been in court often enough to know that handing over an envelope with his mitigation was not on.”

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