"I didn't believe it was alcoholic": Corporate lawyer jailed for drink-driving after blaming home-made Kombucha tea

By Bellis Media & Paul Britton

A corporate lawyer claimed she was almost four times the legal drink-drive limit and veering 'all over the road' in her Range Rover because she drank a friend's home-made Kombucha tea.

Louise Taylor, 41, of Holmes Chapel Road, Sandbach, Cheshire, who had also drunk wine at lunch, has now been jailed for 10 weeks.

She told a court she didn't believe the herbal tea contained alcohol.

Her lawyers had previously claimed it appeared the wrong type of yeast - a brewer's variety - had been used to make the Kombucha.

Imposing a 10-week prison sentence at Llandudno, North Wales, magistrates' chairman Toby Prosser told Taylor it was an 'exceptionally high' reading.

"You appear to have a lack of remorse or recognition of any responsibility for the offence," he said.

"We are in a position where we have to stick to our guidelines and apply justice in the right way."

Taylor wept as she was led from the dock to the cells.

She was also banned for 31 months.

Taylor pictured outside court (Andrew Price/View Finder Pictures)

At a previous hearing before the case was adjourned for sentencing, Taylor said her pal had told her the 'disgusting' herbal drink was good for gut health.

"I didn't believe it was alcoholic," she said, arguing 'special reasons' to avoid a ban.

Taylor said her friend brewed the drink using yeast and mushrooms - and she didn't know the drink was alcoholic either at the time.

"I'm not a massive drinker at all," the general counsel and company secretary for a bank, had insisted in evidence.

She admitted driving her 4x4 on the A55 dual carriageway with a breath-alcohol count of 135. The legal limit is 35.

Her previous defence lawyer had said it appeared the wrong type of yeast - a brewer's variety - was used in making the drink.

Prosecutor Diane Williams said on the evening of April 22, police were behind her vehicle in Rhuallt, in Denbighshire, Wales, as it travelled 'all over the road'.

Taylor was stopped at St Asaph and her speech was slurred, the court heard.

A PC, who followed the white Range Rover Sport for six miles, using blue lights and the siren to try and stop it, said it had been drifting on the hard shoulder and nearly collided with a number of wagons while overtaking.

A bottle in the vehicle was half full of a liquid which smelled of alcohol.

She sobbed as she was jailed (Andrew Price/View Finder Pictures)

A traffic colleague, PC Peter Doran, said of Taylor: "Her eyes were red and glazed, her speech slurred. She was very unsteady on her feet."

Taylor, who said she was 'head of legal', described how she had met a friend at Knutsford in the morning to take their dogs for a walk.

She then went for lunch in a hotel restaurant and they had shared a bottle of wine.

She had stopped to see her friend at Connah’s Quay on the way to Abergele.

Taylor said she had been diagnosed with Coeliac disease, affecting the gut.

She said her friend wouldn’t knowingly give her alcohol.

But she had at least two glasses of Kombucha and drank from a water bottle containing it as she drove. She had also taken four antihistamines for hay-fever that day and started feeling unwell.

Taylor said she took the drink 'in good faith' and maintained: "I didn't knowingly drink and drive."

Defence solicitor Andrew Hutchinson said there were no previous convictions and Taylor took home more than £66,000-a-year.

The risk of her re-offending was extremely low, he said, and the court appearance had caused 'huge embarrassment'.

Taylor was also ordered to pay £868 costs.

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