Drunk firearms police officer crashed car into Folkestone roundabout
A POLICEMAN who got drunk at a Jubilee barbecue and smashed into a roundabout as he drove away has left the force.
When officers in Folkestone caught up with the off-duty officer, he was in the passenger seat, stuffing mints into his mouth.
Firearms cop Christopher Downes, 32, from Lydd, appeared before Folkestone magistrates last Wednesday, when he entered guilty pleas to failing to stop after an accident and refusing to give a breath sample in the early hours of Sunday, June 3.
A third charge of failing to report the accident was dropped when the court heard Downes was arrested minutes after his car hit a road sign on the roundabout, close to his girlfriend's Cheriton home.
Neil Sweeney, prosecuting, said: "He was seen to park and clamber across into the passenger seat, where he was found eating mints.
"He was told to spit them out for a breath test, he refused and was arrested. At the station, he failed twice to give a breath sample."
Downes later told police he had been at a barbecue in Hythe with his girlfriend and remembered no more as he admitted he was so intoxicated.
Defence solicitor Kerry Waitt said his client has been "punished way beyond his folly and stupidity", revealing the officer has already resigned from a promising career.
"Cynics might say his dismissal was inevitable but he could have gone on full pay and been suspended. This speaks of his honour, he recognises he was wrong and does not wish to trespass on the goodwill of the police."
Mr Waitt said Downes was a specialist officer involved in "national security" at Dungeness, where he had served since 2010. "Alcohol does not feature in the corporate lifestyle," he said.
Downes took a law degree and worked as a special constable throughout that time in Essex, where he has now moved back to live with his parents in Clacton.
"This criminal conviction will make it difficult for him to find a job," said Mr Waitt. The officer had run a half-marathon for charity the day before his arrest and Mr Waitt handed in a sheaf of testimonies about his client's good character.
"On the night of the accident, he and his girlfriend had not driven to the barbecue but there was a row and he got in the car. He does not recall where he was going and had not travelled far."
Downes was banned from the roads for 18 months and ordered to complete 100 hours' unpaid service for failing to give a breath test. He was also fined £110 with £100 costs for the failing-to-stop offence.