Former radio star given driving ban

Sarah Kennedy
Sarah Kennedy

A former BBC Radio 2 presenter living near Daventry has admitted to drink driving – but claimed a sneezing fit caused her to crash into a stationary car.

Sarah Kennedy, aged 63 from Church Lane in Hellidon, appeared at Northampton Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday and was banned from driving for nearly two years.

She pleaded guilty to driving her Mercedes SLK when she was twice over the alcohol limit. The presenter, who used to host her own daily early morning show The Dawn Patrol from 1993 to 2010, was disqualified from driving for 22 months.

The court heard Kennedy was driving along the A361, near Byfield, on Thursday April 3 at 7.40pm when she crashed her vehicle into another car parked on the verge with its hazard lights on.

Vicki Walker, prosecuting, said the road was “fairly straight” and had no obstructions.

Ms Walker said: “The occupants of the parked vehicle reported the defendant was unsteady on her feet when she got out of her vehicle.” The court heard Kennedy offered to leave her telephone number but then drove off when told the police were going to be called to the scene.

Ms Walker said officers attended Kennedy’s address shortly afterwards and she told them she had drunk two glasses of wine since she had got home.

Sarah Colby, defending, said her client was extremely remorseful for what had happened and said it was totally out of character.

Ms Colby said: “My client has had a driving licence since she was 17 years old and has never had any issue like this before.” Ms Colby said that Kennedy, who suffers from hay fever, was driving with the windows open past a field full of rapeseed when she suffered a “sneezing fit.”

The solicitor said her client was “reaching for a tissue” when “before she knew it” she had crashed into the parked car.

Kennedy’s breathalyser reading was 92 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35.

Kennedy, who was given an MBE in 2005 for services to broadcasting, was fined £400.

She must also pay costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £40.