'Virtual court' hearing man jailed
A Lithuanian lorry driver who crashed while more than three times the legal drink-drive limit is behind bars after being charged and sentenced within just two hours.
Turlekas Kestutis, 47, had his case processed promptly due to a virtual court scheme which links North Kent police station in Northfleet with Medway Magistrates' Court, police said.
He was involved in a crash in Wrotham Road, Gravesend, Kent, at around 4.15pm on Sunday and was arrested by police after failing to provide a roadside breath test.
Once back at North Kent's custody suite, a sample breath was taken showing his lowest reading was 122mg. The legal limit is 35mg, making him more than three times the drink-drive limit.
Kestutis was allowed to sleep off the effects of the alcohol and was charged with driving a vehicle while over the drink-drive limit at 12.40pm on Monday.
He then appeared via the virtual electronic court link at 2.30pm where he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 84 days' jail and banned from driving for three years, Kent Police said.
The virtual court scheme was launched last year, with pilots held in London and Kent.
Ministers said the scheme could save £10 million a year if extended across England and Wales.
But solicitors have raised fears about potential threats to their security from being sat next to defendants during sentencing, instead of being sat in a dock with dock officers.
Youths, the mentally ill and any cases involving more than one defendant are excluded from the scheme.