A physiotherapist who staggered into court on a drink-driving charge has avoided jail after her lawyer argued she deserved ‘extra help’ for her NHS work during the coronavirus pandemic.
Georgina Davies, 39, was breathalysed at the Cheshire base of vaccine producer Astra Zeneca on April 11 after she tailgated another vehicle into the pharmaceutical giant’s campus, having earlier been spotted parked at a nearby pub.
Police said she was slurring her words and was unsteady on her feet as she got out of her Renault Clio, and tests showed Davies had 166 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, the legal limit being 35mg.
During her hearing at Crewe Magistrates’ Court, the chairman of the bench recused himself from the case, saying he wanted to avoid any ‘personal bias’. He admitted being ‘rattled’ at seeing Davies stagger into the dock, and was replaced by another JP.
It emerged Davies had been drinking prior to the hearing but the defence solicitor and probation officer said she was still able to ‘function and understand the proceedings.’
Davies’ lawyer Richard Olroyd said she had been a team leader at her hospital and ‘put herself right in the front line’ during Covid’, adding that she caught the disease a number of times and ‘was under a great deal of pressure’.
Davies, who lives on her family farm in the village of Mobberley, near Knutsford, admitted driving with excess alcohol and was sentenced to 14 weeks in jail, suspended for 12 months.
Georgina Davies, 39, (pictured) avoided jail after admitting driving over the limit
A magistrate refused to hear her case after admitting he was ‘rattled’ by seeing the NHS physiotherapist (pictured) stagger into court
Davies, a graduate of King’s College, London, is a ‘functioning alcoholic’ who worked on the NHS front line during the pandemic tending to patients in intensive care, the court heard.
Mr Olroyd said: ‘She has been successful throughout her life. She went to university, got a degree, qualified as a physiotherapist and during Covid she put herself right in the front line – but her drink problems started during an abusive relationship.
‘She became isolated from friends and began to drink – then Covid came along. She was a team leader in the hospital and put herself in the position of being on the frontline.
‘She got Covid a number of times and was under a great deal of pressure. She is not the first person from the NHS with exemplary character who has drunk and drove.
‘In times of Covid when we were out on streets to applaud those in the NHS, perhaps they deserve extra help along the way as well as that’ the lawyer said.
‘Attention should be paid to the pressure that those frontline workers, and particularly some in the frontline at the hospital, had to endure through those coronavirus times.
‘Some people see alcoholism as an illness and I ask you to look at it like that today, on her behalf. She does not drink because she wants to, it’s an illness. She now knows she needs to give up completely.
‘She was functioning enough to tell police that she was a recovering alcoholic and wasn’t trying to hide anything. She has not come to court saying I do not have a drink problem. She has attended AA meetings and has had some detox.
‘People say you have to reach rock bottom before making your way back up. I do feel that she is nearly at rock bottom. Being at court is a sign of rock bottom. She is ashamed and embarrassed to attend court today.’
The NHS worker was breathalysed by police after tailgating a car into vaccine maker AztraZeneca’s Cheshire campus (pictured) in her silver Renault Clio
The NHS medic (pictured), who specialises respiratory physiotherapy, developed a drinking problem following an ‘abusive relationship’
The incident occurred at 12.15pm on April 11 2023, after Ms Davies who specialises in respiratory physiotherapy, was seen parked outside the Butley Ash pub in Prestbury.
Miss Stephanie Fellano, prosecuting, said: ‘Police were made aware that a silver Renault Clio was at the academic campus without authority to be there. The driver appeared to be intoxicated and a witness had notified security staff that a driver of the Clio was driving slowly and had tailgated him into the campus.
‘The security guard located the defendant in the car park. She was described as being withdrawn and appeared sleepy. Police officers arrived and they said she was slurring her words unsteady on her feet. In the interview the defendant made full admissions and made the officers aware that she was a recovering alcoholic.’
It is not known why she was the facility.
A probation report on Davies said: ‘She has a longstanding issue with alcohol but is making attempts to address the issues. She has been functioning with this level of alcohol for some time.
‘She is not going to feel drunk as we are going to feel drunk. It is the level at which she functions. She is somebody who wants to engage with services. She recognises that she needs to. She lives with her parents and does not have any dependent children.
‘There are a lot of issues that crept up on her, each one built up and basically set her back a number of steps.’
Magistrates sentenced Davies to 14 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, along with requirements that she attend 10 days of rehabilitative activity with the probation service and a six months alcohol treatment programme.
She was also banned from driving for three years and made to pay £274 in costs and a victim surcharge. She was refused the chance to reduce the ban by taking a drink drive awareness course.
JP Malgorzata Kostrzew said: ‘The offence has crossed the custody threshold – however, having heard from your solicitor and the probation service we believe that there is a realistic chance of rehabilitation. Therefore, we are prepared to suspend the sentence.’