Doctor admits guilt of drink driving five years after incident

PUBLISHED: 11:18 24 January 2006 | UPDATED: 22:27 29 April 2011

Dr Danielle Freedman

Dr Danielle Freedman

A DRINK-DRIVE case which has gone on for so long that it could make the Guinness Book of Records, finally came to an end this week more than five years after it started. Medical consultant Dr Danielle Freedman, who had fought the drink-drive charge since

A DRINK-DRIVE case which has gone on for so long that it could make the Guinness Book of Records, finally came to an end this week more than five years after it started.

Medical consultant Dr Danielle Freedman, who had fought the drink-drive charge since November 2000, finally changed her plea to guilty on Monday - the 45th hearing of her case.

Dr Freedman, aged 52, of Beech Ridge, Kinsbourne Green Lane, Harpenden, who is a medical director at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital, was banned from driving for a year.

When she changed her plea to guilty at St Albans Magistrates Court, Deputy District Judge Geoffrey Wicks said the case had taken so long it could conceivably qualify for the Guinness Book of Records.

The court heard that the case went back to an incident on November 5, 2000, when Freedman was spotted by police driving at 15mph at the head of a procession of five cars on the A1001 between St Albans and Hatfield. The police car joined the back of the queue.

Freedman then drove her BMW all the way round a roundabout, allowing the following cars to pass. She was stopped by the police who spoke to her at the scene and believed she was under the influence of alcohol. She admitted she had been to a party where she had drunk wine.

They conducted a roadside breath test which was positive and she was arrested and taken to Hatfield police station. There the first reading on an Intoximeter machine said that she had 87 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath which showed Freedman was two-and-a-half times over the legal drink-drive limit.

Subsequently the many delays in the case hinged upon the reliability and accuracy of the Intoximeter EC/IR machine used to breathalyse Freedman at the police station. Freedman's defence team, Robin Falvey and Phillip Lucas, had at previous hearings asserted there was no case to answer as the machine did not have official Government approval due to possible modifications and a dispute about who had manufactured it.

Robin Falvey said: "I had a substantial number of cases where defendants were acquitted and the law remained in a state of flux."

The legal arguments hinged on emerging case law. But a definitive judgement in the case of McGillicuddy/Wood has just been handed down from the High Court and this quashed any hope of Dr Freedman using the faulty intoximeter argument as a defence. Her defence team were given the judgement to read over the weekend and Freedman changed her plea to guilty on Monday.

Judge Wicks said he could not give Freedman credit for an early guilty plea but said he was going to approach sentencing as though this was the defendant's first appearance in front of him way back in November 2000.

He did this because he believed she had been almost forced into postponing her guilty plea by acting upon general legal advice.

He had also taken into account her previous good character and character references written by her employers citing her integrity and professionalism.

Judge Wicks commended Patrick Fields, for the prosecution, for his professionalism and rigour in pursuing the case through to its conclusion.

Freedman, who was not on legal aid, was also ordered to pay a £450 fine and £2,000 in prosecution costs.

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