Sarah Searle, 45, had drunk ‘three or four gin and tonics’ at a party she was hosting at her home on a farm, when her disabled brother Andrew West was knifed
A carer has overturned a drink driving ban after a judge heard she was rushing her brother to hospital because he had been stabbed in the neck.
Sarah Searle, 45, had drunk ‘three or four gin and tonics’ at a party she was hosting at her home on a farm, when her disabled brother Andrew West was knifed.
Fearing an ambulance would struggle to find her remote Hampshire home, she put him in the passenger seat of her Ford Focus and immediately began driving to the nearest hospital.
However, having driven 10 miles, well-spoken Ms Searle was pulled over by police on the A27 outside Portsmouth, just five minutes from the city’s Queen Alexandra Hospital.
Officers said Ms Searle was ‘unsteady on her feet’ and saw her brother’s T-shirt soaked in blood.
They then spotted an axe in the car which Ms Searle had been using to gather fire wood.
When tested, she was found to 164 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine. The limit is 107.
As a result, at a case in October Ms Searle, was given a 12 month ban for drink driving and fined £184 with a £30 victim surcharge and £85 prosecution costs.
However, at today’s appeal hearing at Portsmouth Crown Court a judge ruled that the ban should be overturned because Ms Searle was on a mercy mission as she thought her brother, who suffers from a brain injury, was ‘going to die’.
Mr West told the court he had been ‘stabbed in the back’ with a Stanley knife by Ms Searle’s then partner.
Giving evidence, Ms Searle said the family had been enjoying a barbecue party at her home in Compton, just west of the village of Clanfield, Hampshire.
She said she was in a bedroom tending to her sick dog when she heard screams and came out to find her brother ‘covered in blood’.
She told the hearing: ‘I remember being in the bedroom lying on the bed with the dog and I heard screaming.
Officers said Ms Searle was ‘unsteady on her feet’ and saw her brother’s T-shirt soaked in blood. They then spotted an axe in the car which Ms Searle had been using to gather fire wood. When tested, she was found to 164 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine
‘As I entered the front room and looked down at my brother, who had shorts on. He had blood all over his leg and as I looked up to the top part of his body, that was covered in blood as well.’
‘People were screaming at me saying he had been stabbed by the man who at that time was my partner.
‘He still had the knife and I wanted to get my brother away from the party.
‘I thought if I didn’t get my brother into that car, I thought he was going to die.’
She said she feared an ambulance would not reach her remote home in time, and that Google maps did not direct people to her exact location.
She added: ‘I didn’t have time, I had to save my brother’s life. I knew that was the best course at the time.’
At an appeal hearing at Portsmouth Crown Court today, a judge ruled that the ban should be overturned because Ms Searle was on a mercy mission as she thought her brother, who suffers from a brain injury, was ‘going to die’
The court heard that when Mr West’s daughter visited him in hospital, she said his injury ‘was like a horror show’.
Searle, now of Hambrook, near Chichester, West Sussex, has been a carer for Mr West for 14 years. He suffered a brain injury in 2009 in a ‘horrific accident’ when he was beaten up.
When pulled over by police in the early hours of April 20, Ms Searle said she panicked.
She told the court: ‘I remember screaming ‘he’s been stabbed, he’s been stabbed’.
‘I felt they were wasting time, asking me questions when I just needed my brother dealt with.
‘I would stress they could see the amount of blood that was in the car. They could see the amount of blood on him.’
Ms Searle’s former partner was initially arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm, the appeal hearing was told.
A Sussex police spokeswoman said charges were not brought against him ‘due to lack of support from the victim and witnesses’. However the case has now been passed back to the investigating officer.
Judge William Ashworth and magistrates found ‘special reasons’ not to impose the driving ban on Ms Searle.
He said the case met the emergency test ‘that a sober friend in the circumstances that you found yourself would have advised you to drive’.
The 12-month ban was removed and replaced with six points on her licence.