A TEACHER was arrested at school while more than three times over the drink-drive limit, a court heard.

Design and technology subject leader Julia Roberts, 49, of Fernham Gate, Faringdon, said she had turned to alcohol to cope with the stresses of working at Kingsdown School.

Swindon Magistrates’ Court heard her colleagues had phoned the police on the morning of February 10 last year, as they suspected her of having driven to school in her Honda Jazz while under the influence of alcohol then was teaching a class drunk. A nearly empty bottle of vodka was found at the school.

Police arrived at the Stratton school. She gave a reading on the hand-held breathalyser of more than 130mgs of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35. Blood samples taken from her later showed a reading of 253 – three times the legal limit of 80.

Prosecutor Keith Ballinger told the court yesterday she had fully admitted drink driving when she was interviewed by the police.

The night before she had drunk a bottle of white wine, finishing off around five or six large glasses. She had got up for work the next morning and had not eaten breakfast. She drank a bottle of water when she got to school.

The teacher had no previous convictions.

Roberts pleaded guilty last November to driving a motor vehicle while over the alcohol limit.

Defending, Luke Jameson said his client had drunk vodka after arriving at the school that morning, which accounted for a lot of the alcohol in her system when she was tested by the police.

She had been placed under “a lot of undue stress” and responsibility that had resulted in her starting to abuse alcohol, the solicitor added.

Mr Jameson said: “It doesn’t provide her with any defence, but gives you some explanation of how she was feeling and the mental pressure she was suffering.”

Since the offending she had approached addiction service Turning Point for help. She was remorseful and embarrassed by what she had done. “She is a lady with 30 years of teaching experience. It is quite sad she has been put in this position through stress.” She had since left her position at Kingsdown School.

District Judge Joanna Dickens imposed an 18-month community order with 100 hours of unpaid work. Roberts was banned from driving for two years, although the disqualification will be reduced by six months if she completes a drink driver awareness course.

The judge told Roberts: “You are really fortunate, you’re really lucky that no one died or suffered serious injury as a result of your driving. It is a really high reading.”

She must pay £180 in costs and surcharge.

Kingsdown School headteacher Emma Leigh-Bennett said: "The school takes the responsibility of both safeguarding students and the welfare of staff incredibly seriously. We took immediate and discrete control of the situation to ensure all concerned were safe, swift due process then followed. I can confirm that Mrs Roberts no longer works for the school.”

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