Islands’ Pubwatch Chairman Receives Drink-Driving Ban

James Francis

Chairman of the Pubwatch licensees organisation and Star Castle hotelier, James Francis, has received a two-year driving ban after pleading guilty to drink driving.

It will be reduced by 6 months if he undertakes an alcohol awareness course.

The 34 -year-old, who lives at Parsons Field, will also have to pay £800 in fines and costs.

The charge relates to the early hours of 27th March. PC Mat Collier was finishing his police shift at around 1.00am when he heard a vehicle driving slowly down Garrison Lane.

There had been a function that night at the Star Castle. Mat recognised the Volvo estate, which drew his attention as it was revving a lot. The officer sprinted to Mr Francis’ home and found him sitting in the driver’ seat. On opening the door PC Collier was struck by the smell of intoxicating liquor. Mr Francis’ speech was slurred and ‘he was drunk’ Prosecutor Anita Kennett told the court.

After he was arrested and cautioned, Mr Francis responded with a string of expletives warning the constable that ‘he didn’t need to do this’ and that ‘what he was doing would go very wrong’.

He warned the officer that he ‘didn’t know who he was dealing with’ and asked ‘why can’t we get some decent police who do as they are told.’

Mr Francis, who went to school with PC Collier, then said other former Blundell’s School pupils would be ‘ashamed’. He then asked ‘why can’t we just make this go away.’

The doctor was called to take blood and this was found to contain 222 mg of alcohol per 100ml. The drink drive limit is 80mg.

At the Police Station, James Francis told police that he had been driven home by a hotel worker but wouldn’t give the man’s name on the night of his arrest. He returned to the police station the next day and said Graham Drew had driven him home in Mr Francis’ car.

Ms Kennett said Mr Drew’s evidence could not be used as Mr Francis had pleaded guilty. A witness would have been questioned if he’d claimed innocence.

James Francis’ solicitor, Mr Lyons, explained some of the heated exchanges by stating that there had been tensions between the police and some organisations that James Francis was a member of.

A number of character reference letters were passed to the bench by Mr Lyons, who said his client deeply regretted this matter and there would be no repetition of this behaviour.

In summing up, the judge acknowledged letters showing that James Francis was held in high regard in the community and his actions were out-of-character. She felt that people in his position are expected to comply with the law and respect the police.

As he had pleaded guilty early he received a reduced fine.

James Francis’ lawyer asked the magistrate not to revoke his hotel alcohol sales personal license and the magistrate agreed that it’ll be up to the Council’s licensing committee to decide what happens.

National Pubwatch told us that there’s no policy on whether a drink driving conviction affects a Pubwatch chairman’s position – it is up to each local group to decide.