Drunk driver priest’s 4-year ban

Father Kenneth Hawley at Bingley Mags Court
Father Kenneth Hawley at Bingley Mags Court
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A Roman Catholic priest has been banned from driving for four years after he was caught behind the wheel while more than three times over the limit.

Father Kenneth Hawley, of Bradshaw Lane, Halifax, could not stand up properly when he was stopped by an off-duty police officer in Queensbury, Bingley magistrates heard.

It is the 54-year-old’s second drink-driving offence in four years.

Marina Hunter-Gray, prosecuting, said the officer had followed Hawley after spotting his green Renault Clio stopped at a traffic light at around 12.15am on February 15.

“He became aware of the vehicle because it was straddling both lanes and was at an angle,” she said.

When the lights changed, he set off very slowly and went on to drive erratically – speeding up and slowing down and veering on to the wrong side of the road.

Mrs Hunter-Gray said: “The officer went on to say: ‘The vehicle was swerving all over the road. I was fearful it would crash or hit oncoming vehicles.’”

He was stopped in Perseverance Road where the officer called for back-up.

“He was slurring his words and he could quite clearly see his eyes were glazed,” said Mrs Hunter-Gray.

“He struggled to get out of the driver’s seat and when he could manage it, he could barely stand up and then struggled, with assistance, to the police duty vehicle.”

Hawley, who was described as smelling strongly of alcohol, admitted his last drink had only been 20 minutes ago and said he knew he was over the limit.

A breathalyser confirmed that he had 117 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath - more than three times the legal limit of 35. He pleaded guilty to drink-driving.

Tom Rushbrook, mitigating, said Hawley’s depression led him to binge-drink.

“No matter what religion you may be, people like Mr Hawley do actually help and assist people in the community,” he said.

“He has fallen now into a period where he has a problem and he is seeking to try and get some help with that problem.”

Magistrates sentenced him to a 15-month supervision order and imposed a three-month curfew between 10pm and 8am, which will be monitored by an electronic tag.

He was also banned from driving for 48 months and ordered to pay £85 costs.

Hawley was given a 28-month ban for the same offence in 2007.

Mr Rushbrook said he never intended to get behind the wheel again – sober or otherwise.

“He is deeply sorry for what has happened and he is deeply ashamed,” he said.

A statement from the Diocese of Leeds, which covers Hawley’s parish in Wibsey, Bradford, read: “We are aware of the sentence handed out today and in no way condone the actions that led to such a sentence being found to be necessary.

“It is the duty of everyone to obey the law and to act responsibly in all situations especially in such a serious matter of being in control of a motor vehicle.

“Kenneth Hawley has not worked as a priest in the Diocese since early last summer and at this moment in time he is assessing the  direction his life should take.  Everyone, including Kenneth Hawley himself, are grateful that no one was hurt by the incident.”