Hambrook drink-driver was taking her stabbed brother to hospital

A drink-driver who was stopped by police while rushing her stabbed brother to hospital has won an appeal over a ban after saying she thought ‘he was going to die’.

Thursday, 12th December 2019, 12:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th December 2019, 12:06 pm
Sarah Searle outside Portsmouth Crown Courty

Portsmouth Crown Court heard Sarah Searle, 45, of Scant Road East, Hambrook, had drunk ‘three or four gin and tonics’ at a party when her partner Simon Richardson stabbed her disabled brother Andrew West.

In October, Searle was fined £184 with a £30 victim surcharge and £85 prosecution costs and given a 12-month ban for drink-driving. She had been stopped by police in Portsmouth on her way to Queen Alexandra Hospital.

Searle had 164 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine. The limit is 107. But well-spoken Searle and her brother both convinced a judge and two magistrates that she had a genuine emergency and should not have a driving ban. Her punishment still stands but the 12-month ban has been removed and replaced with six points on her licence.

The court heard Searle was pulled over by police who were forced to drive in front of her in the early hours of April 20 near Portsbridge roundabout. Police said Searle was ‘unsteady on her feet’ and officers saw her brother’s T-shirt was soaked in blood as he was sitting in the front passenger seat.

Officers found an axe by the driver’s seat but Searle said that had been left after gathering wood for a fire.

As police dealt with the situation Mr Richardson appeared dressed in ‘sports clothes’ at Portsbridge roundabout – some eight miles from the party at Cowdown Farm, Compton.

Mr West, who suffers from a brain injury from an earlier incident, told the court he was ‘stabbed in the back’ with a Stanley knife and showed the judge a cut to his shoulder.

Giving evidence, Ms Searle said family were enjoying a barbecue party at her now former home but she was going in and out of her bedroom tending to her sick dog. She heard screams and went downstairs to find her brother ‘covered in blood’.

She added: ‘‘I would like to add that getting my brother in the car, I did want to get him out the party because he did still have the knife. I thought if I didn’t get my brother into that car, I thought he was going to die.”

Ms Searle has been a carer for Mr West for 14 years and he suffered a brain injury in 2009 in a ‘horrific accident’ when he was beaten up.

She said she feared an ambulance would not reach her remote home in time and that Google maps did not direct people to her exact location.

“I didn’t have time, I had to save my brother’s life. I knew that was the best course at the time,” and she added no other drivers could take him.

Richardson was arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm and drug possession, the appeal hearing was told. But police have since confirmed that: “Due to lack of support from the victim and witnesses the case was filed.”

A spokesman said the matter has been passed back to the investigating officer.

Judge William Ashworth and magistrates found ‘special reasons’ not to impose a ban. He said the case met the emergency test ‘that a sober friend in the circumstances that you found yourself would have advised you to drive’.