Teacher caught six times over the limit in school car park

A teacher who was caught drink-driving in the car park of the school where she works while six times over the limit turned to alcohol to cope with her cancer-stricken husband leaving her, a court has heard.

Gillespie was caught in the car park of Belmont Academy. Picture: Google
Gillespie was caught in the car park of Belmont Academy. Picture: Google

Home economics teacher Kristine Gillespie, 52, used alcohol as a crutch due to the developments involving John Gillespie, her husband of 26 years, and was found to be well over the limit while at the school last month.

And it was Mr Gillespie who ended up phoning the police to report her after realising she was drunk and warning her not to drive off from Belmont Academy in Ayr. She told police and social workers that she had only had one bottle of Italian beer Peroni with her lunch on the day in question.

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But she had consumed enough alcohol to take her six times over the legal drink-drive limit – and narrowly avoided being sent to jail.

The details emerged yesterday when Gillespieappeared in the dock at Ayr Sheriff Court to be sentenced.

She had earlier pleaded guilty to driving with 132 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath in the school car park on Monday 7 September and sentence had been deferred for background reports.

Yesterday Procurator Fiscal Depute Jacob Tomnay told Sheriff Mhairi MacTaggart how the Belmont Academy teacher, who is now suspended on full pay, came to be in the dock.

The prosecutor said: “The background to this is that Mrs Gillespie, at the point of the offence, was separated from her husband, they have been married for 26 years.

“On the day of the offence he attended the marital home, around midday. He was unable to let himself in. They have a Nissan car and it was not in the driveway. He was unable to gain access to the property.

“Mrs Gillespie attended at the front door and was under the influence of alcohol. He thereafter left in a separate car and tried to locate the Nissan.”

He went to her work and, when he got there, saw her approaching the car, which was in the school car park.

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Mr Tomnay explained: “He observes Mrs Gillespie to access the Nissan, enter it and start the engine. He appears and states that if she drives off he would phone the police. Mrs Gillespie then drove off.”

Officers caught up with her a short time later and she failed a breath test, telling them she had drank a bottle of Peroni with her lunch.

Defence solicitor Jill Molloy said Mrs Gillespie was struggling with her private life at the time of the offence.

The lawyer explained: “At the time of the offence she and her husband had recently separated. They discovered he was suffering from cancer at the end of August. He decided he was going to move out of the marital home, and take one of their children with him.”

Gillespie was banned from driving for 36 months, reduced from 54 as she admitted her guilt, and given a Community Payback Order as a direct alternative to custody.

This will see her supervised by social workers for 18 months, attend alcohol counselling and return to court for a progress review in January.