Sport Rugby

Thursday 14 December 2017

England star Danny Cipriani's drink driving case continues as judge throws out bid to have it dismissed

Danny Cipriani
Danny Cipriani

Catherine Wylie and Kate Ferguson

England rugby star Danny Cipriani's trial for drink-driving will continue after a judge dismissed an application to have the case thrown out.

The player, 28, is accused of being so drunk his eyes were "glazed", he slurred his words and could not stand straight after he crashed his black Mercedes into a taxi at 5.15am on June 1 last year.

Senior District Judge Howard Riddle ruled that Cipriani has a case to answer after the defence said there was not "sufficient" evidence the breathalyser test in the police station was working properly.

Sale Sharks player Cipriani, who has agreed a move to Wasps, was breathalysed after the crash in Imperial Road, Fulham, and found to have 67 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath - twice the drink-drive limit - Westminster Magistrates' Court heard.

The trial opened on Monday but the next day his defence lawyer Philip Lucas called for it to be dismissed.

Mr Lucas has represented a string of celebrities in nearly identical cases and is well known for launching thorough defence cases focusing on legal loopholes or allegations of problems with breathalysing machines.

Making a half-time application to dismiss the case, Mr Lucas said there was not enough evidence that the machine Sergeant Marc Pullen tested Cipriani on was calibrated properly.

Prosecutor Katie Weiss contested the application, insisting the court had enough evidence the machine was working properly to continue the case.

In his ruling Judge Riddle pointed out that Sgt Pullen had said the machine was "working correctly".

Cipriani was in court for the hearing and was dressed in a grey suit, white shirt and dark tie.

He was bailed until the next hearing which was set for May 26.

In his ruling, Judge Riddle said Sgt Pullen told the court in his evidence that the machine "calibrated regularly".

Judge Riddle said he was "sure" that Sgt Pullen had told him "twice" that the machine was working correctly.

The judge said: "In this case Sgt Pullen told me that the breath testing machine was operating correctly.

"That is sufficient to provide a case to answer."

Earlier this week, both the prosecutor and Judge Riddle raised concerns that legal proceedings were being filibustered and the case "derailed".

The case was initially meant to finish on Monday but proceedings were delayed after Mr Lucas made lengthy submissions about the disclosure of evidence.

Expert witnesses did not attend the first day of trial, despite the court's expectation they would.

In tense legal discussions on Monday, Judge Riddle criticised the "unnecessarily complicated" legal submissions on disclosure made by Mr Lucas.

The judge said: "The argument is extremely technical, he has taken me to some of the cases, correspondence between the parties, and I say immediately that argument is unnecessarily complicated, it has no place in a summary trial, it causes the real damage and real danger that the sight of the proper issues in this case will be lost."

He added: "Much of the argument heard today is in effect an attack on the integrity of the prosecution in this particular case which in my view is unjustified."

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