A RETIRED chef and hotelier is convinced an anti-smoking drug mixed with alcohol made him effectively sleepwalk into his car.

Francis Howard-Williams drove off and travelled three or four miles to a place where he had first met his now deceased wife.

When police found him he was slumped in the driving seat of his Mercedes which was parked in the middle of the road.

But Howard-Williams told a court he had not been aware of what he had been doing.

He remembered nothing from when he went to bed until the following morning, when he was given a cup of tea in a police cell.

He did not remember getting out of bed and driving the car, the breathtest procedure or police coming to his vehicle.

Howard-Williams, 63, who was staying at Woodside Close in Ewloe at the time of the incident in March, admitted drink driving after he was found to have 69 microgrammes of alcohol in his breath.

He asked magistrates to find exceptional circumstances which meant he could escape a driving ban. But his claim was rejected at Flintshire magistrates’ court at Mold.

The defendant, of Speanbridge Hotel in Inverness, was fined £175 with £315 costs and banned from driving for 18 months.

Prosecuting barrister Claire Jones told how police received a call from a member of the public and found the defendant’s car at Pinfold Lane, Alltami.

The engine was running and Howard-Williams was in the driving seat.

When he came around he provided a positive breathtest and was arrested, and went through the intoxiliser procedure at the police station.

Defending solicitor David Finney told magistrates the defendant was taking a number of medications at the time.

He had heart trouble and was in remission following cancer, but it was his case the drug Champix – which he had taken at the time to stop smoking – mixed with alcohol had caused him not to be aware of what he was doing.

Magistrates said they did not find the defendant’s evidence credible. He had driven a considerable distance and at the time appeared to fully understand, and complied with, the procedures at the police station.

After the case, Mr Howard-Williams said he was planning to appeal against the conviction.