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Coach driver found guilty after blaming Newcastle United fans for getting him high on drugs

2 years ago

An interesting defence has been attempted when a case came to court, blaming Newcastle United fans.

A driver was accused of being in charge of a coach with excess drugs in his system.

However, when arrested, he claimed he hadn’t smoked any cannabis within the past seven days.

Instead he blamed the coachload of Newcastle fans he had been driving to a match, saying some of them had been smoking drugs and that had caused him to fail the drugs test.

The game in question was on the 27 April 2019, Newcastle away at Brighton.

Perez giving Newcastle an early lead and then Brighton equalising with 15 minutes to go.

As the game came to a close, police ‘followed their noses’ and arrested the coach driver in question.

Brighton and Hove Albion arranged replacement drivers to get the coachload of Newcastle fans home.

The driver in question, from Ashington, found guilty in his absence earlier today, with a decision on sentencing to follow.

Brighton and Hove News report:

‘A stoned driver blamed “a coachload of Geordies” for getting him high on cannabis as he prepared to take about 50 Newcastle United football fans home to the north east.

Michael Saunderson, 49, who was arrested outside the Amex Stadium in Falmer, said that the strong smell of cannabis on his coach was down to the stranded fans themselves.

Saunderson said that some of his 50 passengers had smoked on the 360-mile journey south for the match against Brighton and Hove Albion.

Roger Booth, prosecuting, told Brighton magistrates that Saunderson was caught after a patrolling police officer smelt cannabis in the coach park at the ground.

In the coach park, two officers followed their noses to the 17-ton Volvo coach.

When one driver came to the front door of the coach, Saunderson tried to leave by the back door, with the keys on him, but he was stopped by PC Jayan Shah.

The driver, from Rosalind Street, Ashington, Northumberland, failed a drug test at the scene and later at the custody centre in Crowhurst Road, Hollingbury.

He told PC Gary Douglas that he had not smoked any cannabis in the past seven days.

PC Douglas said: “He said that some people on the coach were smoking cannabis on the way down and he felt unable to control 40 or 50 football fans and that he was unable to stop them.

“He said that he hadn’t smoked any himself.”

The other driver also failed a drug test at the ground but, Mr Booth said, he was not charged after being unable to provide a specimen for analysis at the police station.

Saunderson denied being in charge of a coach with excess drugs in his system at an earlier hearing.

The bench at Brighton Magistrates’ Court found the case proven in his absence this afternoon (Tuesday 25 February).

The court was told that he already had six points on his licence and faced a ban under the “totting up” rules.

He had previous convictions for drink driving and driving while banned as well as having drugs, driving without due care and attention and being drunk and disorderly.’


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