Mum-of-two, 50, turned up to kid’s school so drunk janitor had to take car keys off her

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Mum Donna Dickson was banned from driving for three years and ordered to carry out 225 hours unpaid work when she appeared at Perth Sheriff Court today

A woman who drove to her child’s school to pick them up was so unmistakably drunk that the deputy head instructed the janitor to take her keys and drive her home.

Donna Dickson, 50, had only recently gotten back behind the wheel after completing a prior drink driving ban.

She was banned from driving for three years and ordered to carry out 225 hours unpaid work when she appeared at Perth Sheriff Court today.

Solicitor Steven Farmer, defending, said that while it was a “low reading”, an aggravating factor was that it took place at a school.

“This was impulsive,” he continued. “Mrs Dickson was, as she is meant to do every day, collecting a child from the school. She had had an argument with her mother on the phone.

“Her mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and she wanted her mother to come and live with her, so she could take care of her.

“Plans were in place for that to happen, but on this day her mother advised her on the phone that she wasn’t going to do that.

“She fell into what was a dormant habit by having three glasses of wine before falling asleep. When she woke up she realised she was late for collecting.

“The school isn’t far away – five minutes drive or a 15 minute walk. She felt she would be able to drive and jumped in the car.”

But upon her arrival at the school, Mr Farmer said school employees were “rightly concerned” by the strong smell of alcohol lingering around Dickson and the deputy headmistress became involved, offering that the school janitor would drive her home.

“She accepts the school was right in what they did,” Mr Farmer reasoned.

“She surrendered her keys to the janitor and he drove her home. She accepts responsibility and is completely ashamed of her behaviour.

“There is an ongoing history of anxiety and a history of alcoholism. She has learned to recognise the triggers for more severe episodes of anxiety.

“She is not hiding or denying or playing down that she has had alcohol issues in the past. She knows there is no cure and that all she can do is manage it the best she can.”

Dickson admitted driving while she was over the legal limit in Auchterarder, on 23 September 2019. She was initially charged with being more than five times over the limit but the Crown accepted a plea to a reduced figure of 30/22 mics.

Sheriff Gillian Wade told Dickson she must “appreciate this is a serious offence” as well as being her second offence of this nature.

As a consequence it requires to be marked up by a substantial period of unpaid work, he said.

In 2018, Dickson was banned from driving for 70 weeks and fined £1,080 pounds after being reported to the police by her own husband.

Dickson’s husband tried to stop her leaving to drive to the shops when she was already drunk but she ignored him.

He then contacted the police and officers arrived shortly after she returned home with bottles of alcohol disguised as mineral water.

Dickson, St Serf’s Place, Auchterarder, admitted failing to provide two breath specimens to the police at their Perth HQ on 13 August 2017.

Fiscal depute Bill Kermode said: “Kevin Dickson is the husband of the accused. He was aware she was drunk when she stated she was going to get more alcohol from the town centre.

“He tried to persuade her to return inside the house as he suspected she was going to drive under the influence.

“She was in the driver’s seat and he tried to stop her but to no avail, as she drove out into the street and out of view. The police were contacted.

“She returned home with two small water bottles he suspected contained vodka and he poured them down the sink and re-contacted the police.

“Officers found the brakes on the car were still warm. They found the accused – heavily intoxicated – lying on the sofa in the living room.”

The mother-of-two admitted she had been driving and she tried to give a breath specimen but was unable to do so.

Sheriff William Wood said: “Your persistence in insisting on going out to get more alcohol when those around you were saying ‘don’t do it’ is an aggravating factor.”