University lecturer almost hit police car

Gavel and scales
Gavel and scales

A leading Antarctic scientist drove straight at a police car after getting behind the wheel after drinking so much she was unable to stand, a court heard.

Hull University lecturer Dr Cath Waller was more than three times the drink drive limit when she set off to attend a friend’s wedding.

She was spotted driving her Vauxhall Astra ‘at speed’ in the middle of the road by officers coming the other way.

‎The 49-year-old global warming expert made no attempt to get back onto her side of the road, Scarborough magistrates heard.

Prosecutor Catherine Turnbull said: “The officers noticed the Vauxhall Astra ahead. It was driving at speed in the middle of the road.

“The police driver had to take action and drove close to the kerb to avoid the vehicle hitting them.

“They followed the Astra along the road. It speeded up and slowed down and was weaving across the road.”

The patrol car crew turned on the emergency lights and ordered the car to stop. When they looked inside Waller ‘looked tired and was speaking slowly’ and they told her to get out.

Ms Turnbull continued: “She was unable to stand alone and was clinging to the passenger door to support herself.”

She then told the officers: “I have been stupid. I have had a drink and I should not have done it. I was going to friend’s wedding but turned around when I realised I could not do so.”

Waller, a lecturer at the Scarborough campus of Hull University, had been stopped only a short distance from her home at 9.20pm on New Year’s Eve.

A breath test revealed 109 microgrammes of alcohol – “just over three times” the legal limit of 35, Ms Turnbull continued.‎

Caroline Wyatt, defending, said Waller had planned to spend New Year’s Eve alone and had been drinking from the afternoon into the evening.

A colleague was getting married on New Year’s Eve and wanted Waller to come. At first, she said “no” because she had been drinking - but then changed her mind for reasons she “could not explain”.

Ms Wyatt said that Waller had already realised “it was a foolish thing to do” and had turned back home before she was stopped in Deepdale Avenue.

“She is a lecturer at the university. They are fully aware of what has happened and are fully supportive of her,” Ms Wyatt continued.

“She is managing to hold onto her employment and there is no suggestion of any wrong-doing at work in respect of alcohol.

“She is thoroughly ashamed ‎to find herself before the court and has now lost her good name.”

Ms Wyatt said Waller had suffered depression following her marriage break up.

She was trying to patch things up with her estranged husband and spending a lot of time at his address in her home town of Keighley.

Waller, of Weaponness Drive, admitted drink driving.

She was banned from the roads for 24 months with her licence revoked and placed on curfew for 16 weeks. She was also ordered to pay £85 court costs and a £60 surcharge.

Waller did her ‎PhD with the British Antarctic Survey. Her doctoral research investigated the ecology of the Antarctic intertidal zone, the animals that live there and the adaptations they have developed in order to survive in the face of climate change.