AN OFF-duty police officer was convicted of drink-driving after a court rejected his claim that he’d only been over the limit after downing most of a bottle of wine when he’d stopped his car and entered a field to self-harm.

Robert Jeffrey Hill, 32, of Aberconway Road, Prestatyn, who’d just passed his sergeant’s exam, had denied driving a Vauxhall Astra with a breath-alcohol count of 54 on the night of July 18. The legal limit is 35.

But district judge Gwyn Jones at Llandudno court, on Wednesday, December 4, said: "I’m satisfied his recollection is significantly impaired.” He fined the North Wales bobby £700, ordered him to pay £690 costs, and imposed a 14 months driving ban.

Judge Jones said: "It’s clear the week in question had been a stressful time for Mr Hill. He had lost his grandfather a few days before. He had been suffering from anxiety and depression and he had, without medical guidance, stopped taking medication. This has obviously had some impact on him.

“He wasn’t able to look at matters as objectively as he would otherwise have been able to do so.”

Prosecutor Gareth Parry said police had received an abandoned phone call and went to Hill’s home where his partner confirmed they’d had a row and the defendant had driven off.

Officers were worried about his welfare. He had been found in a field by a sergeant who smelled alcohol and saw his eyes were glazed.

Mr Parry said there was a “lack of credibility” in the defence case. He alleged Hill had failed to mention at the scene that he’d drunk alcohol there.

“Only after consulting a solicitor, he for the first time adduced a defence, claiming he had drunk threequarters of a bottle of Rose wine,” the lawyer added.

Hill told the judge he had since been under the care of a psychiatrist. He said he’d left the house then panicked when he saw a police car outside it later.

He’d been “distressed” and decided to go in the field, get drunk and harm himself. “My brain was a little all over the place,” he said in evidence. He couldn’t believe it when arrested for drink-driving. He hadn’t drunk before getting in the car, he insisted.

“I have been a police officer for eight years and actively targeted drink-drivers,” he remarked. “I wouldn’t commit the offence of drink-driving.”

Steven Levine, defending, said there was plenty of time to drink and no-one from the police had bothered to look for the wine bottle. “There’s no direct evidence of this man drink-driving,” he maintained.