A former Torridge District Councillor has appeared in court charged with failing to provide a specimem after he ‘drove home from full council meeting under influence of alcoho’

A former district councillor has been banned from driving for 30 months after failing to take part in a breath test.

Peter Gerard Le Maistre, of Benson Drive, Northam, appeared at North Devon Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Friday).

Le Maistre, 72, pleaded guilty to failing to provide a specimen after he was arrested on suspicion of drink driving on October 30.

That night, Le Maistre attended a full meeting of Torridge District Council, of which he was still a member, at 6.30pm.

Prosecutor Ben Winzer said police then received two phone calls reporting Le Maistre was intoxicated at the meeting and was believed to be leaving in his car.

Officers arrived at Le Maistre’s home at around 8.25pm to find him getting out of his car, and said he appeared under the influence of alcohol.

“He was quite obviously drunk,” said prosecutor Ben Winzer.

After he refused to give a roadside breath test, Mr Winzer said Le Maistre was handcuffed and became ‘abusive and threatening’.

Once at the police station, he refused to use the intoxilyzer and was demanding the presence of a doctor.

Jen Law, defending, said Le Maistre had medical issues with his nose and throat which was why he had been asking for a doctor.

“He accepts he should have been more articulate about this; had he done so, he should have been offered an appropriate alterative such as a blood or urine sample,” she said.

Miss Law said Le Maistre claimed he had drunk a glass of wine with his dinner at the pub before the council meeting in Bideford Town Hall.

She said Me Laistre had not drunk during the council meeting, and there had been no suggestion of any impaired driving.

Miss Law said ‘it was clear’ someone in that meeting had reported Le Maistre and speculated that it could have been with ‘malicious intent’.

She added: “Nobody stopped him leaving the council meeting or taking his car keys which were on the table in front of him.

“There were 35-plus other people in that room. He wasn’t arrested in Bridge Street and in fact he walked back to his car at The Pill.”

Le Maistre resigned his position as district councillor for Westward Ho! the following morning because he did ‘not want Torridge tied to his misdemeanour’.

Le Maistre was joined in court by mayor of Northam, Hugh Brading, who said the situation was ‘really out of character’.

Mr Brading told magistrates: “I hope you will give consideration to how this man has given his life to improving local amenities.

Magistrates retired to give the matter consideration before sentencing Le Maistre to a 30-month ban and a 16-week curfew.

He was also fined £170 in court costs and a mandatory victim surcharge.