A GARAGE owner more than four times over the legal drink-drive limit in Thamesdown Drive has been banned for three years, but was spared prison.

Gavin McCracken, 46, of Dowland Close, Redhouse, gave a lowest reading of 148 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, The legal limit is 35mcg.

The father-of-two, who owns Manathome Garage in Station Industrial Estate, Sheppard Street, was beyond the custody threshold, but remained free after the Swindon Magistrates' Court hearing yesterday because of his remorse, good character and emotional stress.

He was first spotted by a member of the public in Oakhurst Way on the afternoon of Sunday, November 8, this year, hitting a kerb twice as well as the central reservation.

The Mini Clubman approached the Thamesdown Drive junction and suddenly swerved across two lanes to make a left turn towards Orbital Shopping Park.

A short distance later he stopped the car at a green light on the busy North Swindon road as he came to his senses, before police officers apprehended him.

Officers found McCracken slurring his words and giving off a strong smell of alcohol before they gave him a roadside breath test.

In mitigation, it was revealed McCracken had turned to alcohol when he discovered his late father’s best friend, the last link to his dad, had died.

Defending McCracken, Francis George said: “This was a sad series of events. By his own, opening admission, he told police he was ashamed of his behaviour.

“This was the anniversary of the death of his father, and his father’s best friend had died on the Sunday.

“He was told about it by his auntie. This was the last link to his father.

“He stupidly took solace in alcohol and drove a relatively short distance. He accepts his behaviour was foolish.

“He cut across the traffic lights to pull over, but could find nowhere and eventually stopped in front of a green light.”

The probation service told the court McCracken had said he had not eaten much on the day in question and had drunk three large glasses of wine in quick succession before taking to the wheel.

In sentencing him, the chair of the magistrates Diana Crockett said: “We have had a lot to talk about, including whether or not, because of this extremely high reading, we were going to send you to prison.

“Because of your remorse, your good character, your early guilty plea, your clean licence, the emotional upheaval you suffered and the references, we will deal with you in three ways.”

He was banned from driving for three years, handed a 12-month community order with 150 hours of unpaid work and £295 court costs.