Council employee was caught driving a ride-on lawnmower while 16 times the drug-drive limit
A former council employee admitted driving a ride-on lawnmower while more than 16 times the drug-drive limit after police were tipped off by his supervisor
Jamie Lee Costello, of Culverhayes Place in Wimborne, was caught operating the Christchurch and East Dorset Councils John Deere vehicle in Stone Lane, Wimborne on Monday, September 3 with more than 800 micrograms of cocaine derivative benzoylecgonine per litre of his blood.
He also had 6.5 micrograms of THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, per litre of his blood.
On Tuesday December 18, Costello, 22, appeared at Poole Magistrates’ Court to admit two charges of drug driving.
Jason Spellman, prosecuting, said one of Costello’s colleagues phoned 999 to report that they suspected he was under the influence of drugs on September 3.
The court heard a police officer found Costello operating the lawnmower in Wimborne, but as they approached on foot the defendant drove into the road and away from the officer.
After pursuing in a police car, the officer located Costello at the wheel of the lawnmower, which was parked in Stone Lane near Wimborne cemetery.
Costello told the officer he had taken cannabis the previous day and cocaine on Friday, August 31.
However, David Williams, mitigating, told the court his client had admitted to him that he had smoked cannabis and sniffed cocaine with “friends from work” the day before the incident.
Officers arrested Costello after a drug wipe had been carried out at the scene. A subsequent blood sample was taken at the police station and he was charged with two offences of drug driving.
Mr Williams said it had been Costello’s supervisor at the council who contacted police.
He added that had his client suspected he was over the legal drug driving limit on the day of his arrest he would have phoned his work and stayed at home.
A letter written by Costello was read out in court, which said: “I am dearly sorry for my silly behaviour.”
It added: “I have resigned from my job. This has restricted me from getting a secure income.”
The court was told Costello had struggled in recent months with various family matters.
Mr Williams said the council had told his client he might be offered his job back once his driving ban had concluded.
Costello was disqualified from driving for 12 months, fined £200 and order to pay a £30 surcharge.
Matti Raudsepp, strategic director at Christchurch and East Dorset Council said: “The council does not comment on individual staffing matters, other than to stress that all allegations of inappropriate or dangerous behaviour, including those connected to drug use, are dealt with in accordance with the council’s disciplinary policy.”
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