Suffolk

'Sleep driving' jockey Tom Queally banned

Tom Queally and Frankel Image copyright Getty/AFP
Image caption Queally was Frankel's jockey as he won 14 of his 14 races before the horse was retired for breeding

A top jockey has been banned from driving for 22 months after claiming he was sleep walking while drink driving.

Tom Queally, 30, from Oak Lodge, Newmarket in Suffolk was found asleep in his car in Cheshire in March.

He admitted the charge and received the ban and a £1,350 fine at Crewe Magistrates' Court.

But his lawyer, Nick Freeman, argued he had been forced to plead guilty because the law did not recognise the sleep walking argument.

The prosecution said Queally, famous for being the regular jockey of "wonder horse" Frankel, was found asleep at the wheel of his BMW at a filling station in Chelford, Cheshire,with the engine running and the lights on at 05:40 GMT on 16 March.

Image copyright Getty/AFP
Image caption Queally and trainer Sir Henry Cecil celebrate Frankel's victory in the Queen Anne Stakes at Ascot in 2012

A breath test showed a reading of 84 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of blood, when the legal limit is 35 microgrammes.

His defence argued that Queally, who is originally from Dungarvan in the Irish Republic, had been a sleep walker since he was five years old.

He had been out in Hale, Cheshire, and his last recollection was reading a magazine on a bed at his manager's house at 02:00 GMT.

Mr Freeman said: "The thrust of my mitigation is he's completely unaware of what he's doing - he's sleep driving.

"I don't think the law has kept up with scientific developments, because it seems simply unfair for a man of this quality now to have a criminal conviction for something which in my view, he's morally totally innocent."

District Judge Bridget Knight said the law had previously ruled that sleep walking was not a defence for drink driving.

Queally was also fined £1,350 and ordered to pay costs of £3,500.

Speaking afterwards, Mr Freeman said: "The law needs to be changed to reflect this unique set of circumstances."

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