Dungarvan jockey Tom Queally has been banned from driving for 22 months after claiming he was sleepwalking while drink-driving.
Queally, who was more than twice over the limit after being found asleep behind the wheel of his BMW, claimed he had not been drinking, then “rolled” out of a police car and lay down on the ground after being arrested, Crewe Magistrates’ Court heard.
However, his lawyer Nick Freeman, who is known as “Mr Loophole”, claimed that the 30-year-old, most famous for being the regular jockey of “wonder horse” Frankel, was “morally totally innocent” as he was “sleep driving”, and claimed the law needed to be changed.
Mr Freeman claimed Queally was forced to admit the charge of drink-driving because the law had not caught up with medical science in recognising sleepwalking as a legal defence for drink-driving.
Queally, from Dungarvan, but now living at Oak Lodge, Newmarket, admitted drink-driving on March 16, earlier this year.
Kate Marchup, prosecuting, told the court that at about 5am on March 16 a man driving home from a night shift spotted Queally “either asleep or looking down at his mobile phone” with his car parked in the carriageway of Knutsford Road in Knutsford, Cheshire.
He was “concerned” drove back and saw another vehicle parked behind Queally’s BMW and a young man asking the defendant if he had been drinking — then the defendant drove off, but his registration number was taken.
Queally’s BMW was then spotted parked up at a Shell garage in Chelford, 8km away.
At 5.40am an officer arrived and found Queally asleep at the wheel with the car lights on and the engine running.
He gave a positive breath test and was arrested.
Queally gave a reading of 84mg of alcohol in 100 mls of breath. The legal limit is 35mg.
Mr Freeman, mitigating, said a number of “trigger events” prompted an episode of sleepwalking that led Queally, a man of no previous convictions and “exemplary character” to get in the car.
He said Queally used to ride for Henry Cecil, who had recently died, an ex-girlfriend had committed suicide and he had suffered the break-up of a long-term relationship.
He said that there was a history of sleepwalking in Queally’s family — he had sleepwalked from the age of five.
Dr Irshad Ebrahim, a consultant psychiatrist, said it was possible Queally was unaware of his actions.
“It is an automatic state, like a trance state, where there’s no control of it,” he said.
Judge Knight disqualified Queally for 22 months, fined him £1,350 (about €1,700), with a victim surcharge of £120 and ordered he pay the prosecution costs of £3,500.
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