Buckley post master's 'shocking' driving after cannabis


Staff reporter (Leader Live)

A SUB post master has received a suspended prison sentence for what a judge described as “a shocking piece of driving.”

Judge Niclas Parry, sitting at Mold Crown Court, told Usman Ashiq, 27, “It was all because, I have no doubt, that you were under the influence of cannabis.”

Ashiq, who lives above the sub Post office he runs in Brunswick Road, Buckley, had denied dangerous driving amid allegations he was swerving in the road between the Tesco roundabout at Mold and the centre of Buckley on November 10 last year.

A trial was due to be held yesterday but he changed his plea to guilty.

He received an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and he was ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work. He was disqualified from driving for 18 months and ordered to sit an extended driving test.

Judge Parry, who also ordered him to pay £1,200 prosecution costs, said: “This was a shocking piece of driving. This was not a momentary lapse when you were changing a CD.

“You caused concern over a considerable distance. You had several close shaves. It is quite remarkable that no damage was caused and that no injuries were sustained.”

But he was a man of good character who had acted out of character, he was a hard working man who clearly had another side, which was why he deserved a chance.

Prosecuting barrister James Coutts told how a couple driving behind him with their child were so concerned at the way he was swerving in the road, his Audi A4 clipped the kerb on occasions and strayed over the centre white lines, that they contacted police.

The woman passenger gave police a running commentary as he weaved in the road, swerved out to avoid a car that was turning left, and went over onto the wrong side of the road on occasions.

On-coming vehicles had to take evasive action to avoid a collision.

It went on for 2.4 miles, the prosecutor explained. Two hours later he was seen by police sitting in his car and there was a strong smell of cannabis inside it. He failed an impairment test.

David Ryan, defending, said the initial manoeuvre was caused when he was changing a CD.

He was concerned that the car behind appeared to be following him and was flashing its lights when he had been to his brother’s shop and had a large amount of money in the vehicle, which he was taking back to the post office.

It was a Sunday afternoon, traffic was light, there was no excessive speed and there had been no accident or injuries.

The defendant had not been charged with driving under the influence of drugs and while he had cannabis the day before, the impairment test was two hours after the driving had ended.

Judge Parry indicated that if the defendant did not accept he was driving under the influence of cannabis then he would have to hear evidence on the issue.

“It is perfectly clear that he had been smoking cannabis which is why he was driving as he was,” the judge explained.

Mr Ryan said his client accepted he had cannabis before the offence and accepted the result of a toxicology report. He knew he had to be sentenced on the basis that there was cannabis in his system and his driving would have been impaired, but there had been other factors as well.

Ashiq lived with his wife and son above the post office. He had been the proprietor of that business for five or six years, he employed five people and provided a valuable service to the community.

There was a danger he would lose his job, his employees would lose theirs, he would lose his home and the post office would have to close if he was sent to jail, said Mr Ryan.

See full story in the Leader

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