Drunk planning officer abandoned car after drinking whisky at the wheel

A COUNCIL planning officer has been banned from the roads after drinking a bottle of whisky while driving in Herefordshire

James Goss entered a guilty plea when he appeared before magistrates in Hereford.

Police had received several reports of a dark blue Volkswagen Golf being driven in a dangerous manner on the evening of February 23, prosecutor Ralph Robyns Landricombe said.

The first report, which came in at 5.30pm, described Goss driving at 10 miles per hour while slumped over the wheel in Ledbury. The court heard the witness had walked alongside the car as it crawled along, knocking on the window.

The witness said Goss had eventually stopped, managed to put his thumb up, and slurred that he was “ok” before driving off towards Hereford.

Another call had come in at 7.50pm, reporting that the same car had been stopped in the carriageway with no lights on just over a blind summit on the A438.

“The witness had to slam their brakes on to avoid crashing into it,” Mr Robyns Landricombe said.

“The driver was slumped over the wheel, unconscious, but woke up and drove off after the witness shone a torch through his window.”

Police found the Golf abandoned in the carriageway on the A438 at Dormington just after 8.30pm, with a “significant amount” of damage to the passenger side. It was also missing a tyre and appeared to have been driven a considerable distance without it, officers said.

“Very confused” driver Goss, who was found some 500 yards away, covered in mud and walking towards Hereford, was arrested after failing a roadside breath test, and an evidential test revealed he had 105 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.

Inside the car police found two bottles of Famous Grouse whisky, one of which was empty and one three-quarters full.

In interview, Goss, who has been living with his mother in South Wales during lockdown, said he was an alcoholic and that he had driven to his home in Stourbridge that day for a coronavirus vaccine.

The council planning officer said he had gone to his house after receiving the jab, drinking four cans of Stella before getting behind the wheel to return to Newport.

He had then drunk the bottle of Famous Grouse while driving, and could not remember how he had ended up in Herefordshire or how his car had been damaged.


Jason Patel, for Goss, said the 53-year-old had been working from home through coronavirus and his drinking problem had been aggravated by this.

“He knows he should have stayed in Stourbridge and driven back the next day, but he had not got his work equipment with him,” Mr Patel said.

“Clearly he was drink-driving, but he was not speeding and was instead on the opposite end of the scale.

“This has been a big wake-up call for him. He is deeply ashamed and has been in touch with an alcohol treatment service.”

Goss, of Sunnybank, Bassaleg, was disqualified from driving for 24 months, made subject to a 12-month community order, and must complete a six-month alcohol treatment programme.

He must also pay a £507 fine, costs of £135, and a £95 victim surcharge.

Hereford Times