A BROMSGROVE man was cleared of drink-driving because his friends had spiked his drinks with vodka.
Richard Short, 28, of Dovecote Road, was given an absolute discharge when he appeared at Redditch Magistrates Court on Monday (February 9).
The court heard Mr Short was pulled over by the police about 1.15am on May 31 after officers deemed him to have been driving erratically towards Charford.
They had followed him along the Worcester Road, which has a 30mph limit. There he picked up his speed and was travelling between 45mph and 50mph and, as he turned down Charford Road, he was stopped.
After blowing 59 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath at the roadside, he was arrested, handcuffed and taken to Kidderminster Police Station.
There he blew 50microgrammes, which still put him over the limit.
Mr Short said he could not understand how he had been over the drink-drive limit as he had been to a charity event at Bromsgrove’s Hilton Hotel the night before where he had only had two pints of normal strength lager. Those had been consumed between 7pm and 8pm.
After being released he spoke to two of his friends who had been at the event.
It was then Terry Clark and Adam Hicklin admitted to him they had been lacing his drinks with vodka.
Mr Clark said he had taken a litre bottle of Icelandic vodka to the function and he and others had been buying pints of cola.
When they were put back on the table, the ice was scooped out and the vodka poured into the glasses.
“Rich was down and I was trying to cheer him up,” he said.
And he added Mr Short did not know vodka had been put in his drink.
Mr Clark had organised a minibus to and from the hotel so people did not have to worry about getting back after consuming alcohol.
“As far as I knew, we were dropping him off and he would then be staying at home.”
He said he anticipated that over the course of the evening, Mr Short had consumed about eight shots of vodka.
When Mr Short got back he received a call about an incident in Charford which involved his friends being threatened.
He then got into his van and drove the short distance there and it was then he was pulled over by the police.
He admitted he may have been driving erratically as he was concerned about his friends.
Prosecuting Jim Mason questioned Mr Short, saying surely he would have tasted the vodka in the soft drink, adding most people would also have felt the effects of that amount of alcohol and he should have too.
But Mr Short refuted the claims, saying he felt fine.
In July, because of the breathalyser reading, and because the fact Mr Short was over the limit was not in any doubt, he had pleaded guilty to drink-driving.
He had since had a report on his situation compiled by experts which had been submitted to the court and his friends had come forward to confess on oath about what they had done that night.
Giving Mr Short an absolute discharge, the chair of the bench David Harding said: “We consider the reasons sufficient enough not to disqualify you.
“We have heard two witnesses admit they laced your drink.
“They should consider seriously their actions which could have easily led to an accident.”
Mr Short was ordered to pay £85 costs.