Friday, 30 Oct 2020

High-flying student caught drink-driving ‘still grieving dad who died in 2010’

A high-flying student who was caught drink-driving was still grieving the death of her dad 10 years later, a court heard.

Raphaelle Hoffman, described as 'highly driven'', was fined £120 and ordered to pay a further £119 in costs and surcharges for the driving offence.

Her lawyer insisted that she was still grieving over her dad’s death in 2010.

Hoffman was stopped on August 3 by police in Wilmslow, Cheshire, after she drove her Mini Cooper through two no-entry signs following a night out with friends, and was found to be more than twice the alcohol limit.

The student, who lives 20 minutes away in Altrincham, told police she made the mistake because she was unfamiliar with the area.

At Stockport Magistrates' Court yesterday, Hoffman, a former star pupil at £12,786-a-year Withington Girls School in Fallowfield, Manchester, admitted drink-driving.

The Daily Mirror reports that Parveen Akhtar, prosecuting, told the court: ''Officers observed her vehicle being driven with one female passenger and the driver ignored two no-entry signs.

''There were two females inside and the officers drove around so they’re in front of the car. The officer spoke to the defendant and she says that she’s not from the area and she was asked to come and take a seat in the police car."

"She took part in a roadside breath test and when she does she fails and is then taken to the police. Miss Hoffman has no previous convictions and is a lady of good character.''

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The legal limit is 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. When tested, Hoffman had 81mg.

In mitigation, Hoffman’s defence lawyer Lisa Morton said: "She was cooperative on the breathalyser and on the procedure form it says she’s cooperative and very nervous.

"She’s 19 years of age and has no experience with the police or any such thing before or in her life.

"She is a student at the London School of Economics and in the second year of her degree and is on a three year course and she also does a bit of tutoring to earn a little bit of money."

"Students are not particularly affluent," she added, "and she’s trying to get some income to assist her in her studies.

''She’s a young lady who has had some difficulties in life and at nine years of age her father passed away and it clearly had an impact on her mental health.

"It was the 10 year anniversary earlier this year and another family member who passed away who was her dad's ex-wife who she treated as a member of the family was like an auntie to Raphaelle.

''She died earlier this year a month away from her dads anniversary and her mental health has been deteriorating."

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Ms Morton continued: "There has been a prescription of some medication designed to assist but because of a combination of factors including the transfer of records and waiting lists difficulties and Covid-19 things have not gone quite as smooth as getting the medication.

''On this day she has gone out for a meal with a friend in an area which is not particularly familiar to her.

"The road we are talking about is a service road in front of a cinema there is [sic] parking spaces and she’s clearly driven the wrong way up that road and parked up the vehicle."

''The chance of her coming into contact with other road users was extremely low at that time of night and that time of year," Ms Morton told the court.

"She tells me that this was not a deliberate offence and she had no intention to come to the attention of the police.

''She’s clearly very well thought of by the parent she is tutoring for it’s a great shame if that was to be removed from her."

Ms Morton concluded: "Loss of the driving license is obviously mandatory but I do ask you to offer a driving rehabilitation course and keep the period of disqualification as low as possible in the circumstances.''

In addition to her fine Hoffman was disqualified from driving for 20 months and offered a place on a drink-drive rehabilitation course.

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