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Road ban and fine for drink-drive carer

By Staff Reporter

A care worker at a north care home was caught drink driving as she was on her way to start a night shift.

Tracy Gilchrist (38) of Brudes Hill, Inverness, was spotted weaving across the A9 in her black Mazda by an ambulance crew who happened to be behind her and were so concerned that they alerted police.

Gilchrist later drove the Mazda into the nearside verge where it stalled. Tests later showed her to have 38 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The limit is 22 in 100.

Prosecutor Martina Eastwood told Tain Sheriff Court today that police were parked in a lay-by on the A9 just north of Skiach Service Station, at around 9pm on December 16, when they noted a small convoy of three cars heading north.

"The last vehicle - an ambulance - pulled in beside them and paramedics told officers that the second vehicle in the convoy was swerving around the carriageway and they were concerned," said the fiscal.

"Officers went in pursuit of the Mazda and caught up with it near Dalmore junction. The vehicle was moving from the verge to the middle of the road and back. It slowed down at the junction to Milnafua and stalled on the nearside verge.

"Police approached the car and heard the engine starting and then stalling again. Ms Gilchrist was the only occupant and smelled of drink. She said she was travelling to her place of work in Dornoch to start a night shift at 9.15pm."

Defence agent Rory Gowans said that on the day in question his client was "exhausted and her body clock was back to front" because she had been on a run of 11 consecutive shifts.

He said: "She had gone home the previous evening and had a drink. She was stunned to find out she was still over the limit."

He added that Gilchrist, who admitted drink-driving at a previous court appearance, was a valued employee and would not lose her job. References from her employer were handed over.

The court was told that Gilchrist had a previous conviction in 2015 relating to a similar offence.

Sheriff Chris Dickson banned Gilchrist from the road for 18 months and fined her £640.

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