Top jockey banned from driving

20/11/2014

Top jockey Tom Queally has been banned from driving for 22 months by magistrates at Crewe in Cheshire.

The court ruled that a claim by his defence that Queally, 30, had been sleepwalking at the time he was caught was inadmissible.

Queally, of Ashley Road in Newmarket was found asleep at the wheel of his BMW sports car in the early hours of Sunday 16 March 2014.

A shop worker spotted him on the road near a supermarket in Adams Hill, Knutsford as he drove past around 5am.

He went back to the sports car a few minutes later as he was concerned about the driver.

By then another young man was trying to speak to Queally, but the jockey started the car up and drove away. The shop worker called the police.

An officer found Queally, again asleep at the wheel of his car, in a petrol station forecourt a few miles on at Chelford. The engine of the car was running and the headlights were on.

The officer knocked on the car window to speak to Queally. When he did, the jockey smelt of alcohol and the officer asked him to take a breath test. He failed the test and was arrested.

The court heard that Queally had been drinking with a friend in Hale in Cheshire the night before.

He initially told police that his friend had dropped him off at his car so he could sleep and drive home in the morning but changed this account later.

He pleaded guilty to drink driving but his defence lawyer Nick Freeman argued that he suffered from a sleep disorder and was, in effect, sleep driving when he was caught and didn't know what he was doing.

But District Judge Bridget Knight said previous caselaw had determined that this defence was not applicable to drink driving cases.

Jonathan Egan, District Crown Prosecutor with Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, has worked on the case throughout.

He said: "Queally's defence claims that he sleep walked into this incident were thrown out by the court.

"Legal advice showed that this would amount to a claim that Queally was temporarily insane at the time and this wasn't deemed an acceptable defence.

"The Crown argued that Queally had simply drunk too much when he was out with his friend and had foolishly tried to drive home while over the limit.

"The amount that he'd drunk led to him falling asleep in the car, not some form of physiological disorder.

"No-one is above the law and the jockey's fame does not alter this case in any way.

"He was driving while over the limit and that is an offence and he is now facing the consequences."

Tom Queally was also fined £1,350 and ordered to pay £3,500 in costs. He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £120.