Sunday, April 03, 2005


What a racket! See my post of March 21 for another case

A pub landlord who crashed his car while three times the alcohol limit was cleared of drink-driving - because he could prove he is a sleepwalker. Matthew Sadler was tracked down by police after his mangled 18,000 pound BMW was found in undergrowth next to a busy road. The convertible had run into a lamppost and debris littered the highway.

Blood on the driver and passenger seats sparked a police helicopter and dog hunt for the driver. Sadler awoke to find officers banging at his pub door, which he answered in a blood-stained T-shirt and with facial cuts. He was arrested but claimed to have no memory of the crash.

The landlord failed to complete three breathalyser tests but a fourth reading taken at a police station showed he was more than three times the legal limit. Sadler told police he remembered going to bed after a night on the town with friends but had earlier checked his car to make sure the roof was properly done up. And he told a court this week: "I believe that I did it but I can't recall getting in the car to drive."

He was cleared after medical tests and a family history of sleepwalking suggested he was prone to the condition. It may have been triggered by stress due to a fire at his pub. Sadler said he had previously made telephone calls and hidden money while sleepwalking, adding: "I never remember doing it." Dr Irshaad Ebrahim, of the London Sleep Centre, told Andover magistrates how Sadler, of the Queen Inn, near Basingstoke, Hants, had been watched for two nights in a laboratory.

The doctor said that while most people have around 20 arousals or spasms in the muscles or nerves while asleep, Mr Sadler had 183 when tested without alcohol and 124 after drinking. Together with a history of sleepwalking on his father's side and the stress of the fire, Dr Ebrahim said he had no doubt the evidence proved Sadler was a sleepwalker. He said: "The diagnosis to us is clear, and there would not be a single expert in the world who would differ from this diagnosis."

Sleepwalkers can tolerate extreme pain and heat, Dr Ebrahim added. Sadler may have been confused when woken which might explain why he could not complete a breath test. Sadler's BMW was found by the A30 near Basingtoke on August 16 last year.
Magistrates' chairman Judith Newman said: "We believe the prosecution have not proved beyond reasonable doubt that you were not in an automaton state and therefore find you not guilty of all the charges."

(Original report here)

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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