Grieving Stonehaven dad jailed after driving lorry dangerously while four times limit

Timothy Humphreys is taken to prison from Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

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A north-east lorry driver who was caught swerving between lanes of the A90 while more than four times the drink-drive limit has been jailed. Timothy Humphreys has now lost his job and his freedom after being spotted struggling to keep control of his HGV between Stracathro and Stonehaven at around 6.30pm on November 21 last year. Aberdeen Sheriff Court was told he had turned to alcohol to cope with the grief of losing his 15-year-old son Kevin to leukaemia on Christmas Day 2001.

The 60-year-old, who has previous drink-driving convictions, was branded “exceptionally irresponsible” by Sheriff Graham Buchanan as he locked him up for six months.

Drivers saw lorry swerving about

Fiscal depute Rebecca Thompson told the court other drivers put on hazard lights to stop other road users from overtaking him as he “repeatedly drifted between lanes”. “Witnesses saw the lorry constantly swerving between lanes and almost striking the near side kerb,” she said. “He eventually stopped near Broomhill Road in Spurryhillock Industrial Estate.

One witness stopped to check he was okay and after she left him police arrived. “They engaged in conversation with him and observed he had delayed reactions and responses to their questions. “When he exited the lorry he was seen to be unsteady on his feet.”

Humphreys, of Stonehaven, gave police a positive breath test reading of 98 microgrammes of alcohol per 100ml of breath, the legal limit being 22. He admitted a charge of dangerous driving and another of driving the articulated lorry while under the influence of alcohol.

A sad anniversary

Defence agent Lynne Bentley said Humphreys had turned to alcohol to try to numb his grief as the anniversary of his son’s death approached. “Mr Humphreys had been using alcohol as a way of coping with, what the social work report identifies as, suppressed emotions.

“Those may relate to the anniversary of his son’s death in December 2001.” Social work reports identified a “pattern of offending” at this time of year after his son died, aged 15, on Christmas Day 2001, after a nine-year battle with leukaemia. “That and issues within his past may explain the use of alcohol as a prop,” Miss Bentley added.

“He is at a loss to explain why he made the dangerous decision to drive an HGV when he was so heavily under the influence of alcohol. “There appears to be a trigger at the end of the year and the sad anniversary that Christmas Day marks for him and his family.” She asked Sheriff Buchanan to spare Humphreys jail, given a roads ban would serve to protect the public and that his wife relies on him for physical support for her disabilities.

She stressed that Humphreys and his family have been keen fundraisers of the Anthony Nolan Trust, a UK charity that works to help those with leukaemia.

Grieving Stonehaven dad jailed after driving lorry dangerously while four times limitTimothy Humphreys. 

‘Exceptionally irresponsible’

Sheriff Buchanan said he had no alternative but to jail Humphreys given he had previous drink-driving convictions. He told him: “To drive this sort of vehicle in the manner that you did, which of course was influenced by the fact you had a very high level of alcohol in your body, was exceptionally irresponsible and highly dangerous to the public. “I have taken the view that for matters as serious as this there is no alternative to a custodial sentence.”

Humphreys, of Christie Crescent, Stonehaven, was jailed for six months and banned from the road for three years and seven months.

He must also sit an extended competency driving test before he can regain his licence.

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