Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Stylist To The Stars' Double Drink-Drive Crash Shame

A stylist to the stars, who twice crashed her car while nearly four times and then quadruple the drinks limit in the same week, was told she "could have killed someone" by a judge, who described the case as one of the worst he had ever heard.

Chelsea School of Art graduate Clare Harries, 50, of Huddleston Road, Tufnell Park, has a celebrity clientele which includes stars Bruce Willis; Daniel Radcliffe; Jude Law; Angelina Jolie; Robert Downey Jnr and Emma Watson.

Today she was sentenced to four months imprisonment, suspended for two years, disqualified from driving for five years and ordered to comply with an alcohol treatment requirement and attend sixteen counselling sessions.

Hammersmith Magistrates Court District Judge Paul Goldspring announced: "Someone who is this many times over the legal limit is just about as dangerous as anybody on the road. I can't think of a case that ticks as many aggravating boxes."

Described as "one of the most respected and experienced stylists working in the industry today" Harries specialises in film and TV shoots; photo shoots, award ceremonies, including The Oscars, and is also a style consultant and interior designer.

The mother-of-two pleaded guilty at Hammersmith Magistrates Court to driving her blue Mercedes in Oxford Street on October 15 with 133 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath - the legal limit is 35 - and driving in Malvern Road, Wood Green on October 20 with 141 microgrammes.

"She is on the surface a woman, who two years ago, was apparently a busy working single-mother. That was a social facade and hidden from virtually everybody, under the ice, there was a slow decline of physical and mental health," said her lawyer Mr. Simon Sherriff.

Prosecutor Mr. Tom Gill said it was 9.15pm when Harries was involved in a collision in Orchard Street in the West End, with the other driver calling the police because he believed Harries was drunk.

She drove off, but was followed by officers who confirmed the smell of alcohol on her breath and she failed a roadside test and was arrested.

While on bail she was arrested again five days later after colliding with a parked vehicle in Whiteman Road, Hornsey at 6.50pm and driving off.

When police caught up with her the car was stationary with the engine running, the lights on the front tyre was flat and Harries was gripping the steering wheel and staring blankly ahead.

In February, 2013 Harries was convicted of being in charge of a vehicle while over the alcohol limit and was fined and given ten penalty points.

"One of her friends tells me you would not believe this is the same woman as two years ago," explained Mr. Sherriff, adding she has a son, aged fifteen and a daughter, aged seventeen years-old.

"The marriage to her first husband was an unhealthy relationship that led to divorce and after the collapse of her marriage to her second husband she lost the family home in March and is in rented accommodation, which she hopes to get out of.

"Social services will take over if there is an immediate custodial sentence and the house she is renting for the children will go.

"There would be a long-term detrimental effect on the children if she goes to prison and they will lose their accommodation. In this case that would be the punishment of the innocent."

The court heard Harries is currently prescribed anti-anxiety drug Citalopram and anti-anxiety and alcohol-withdrawal drug Librium and in September underwent surgery after being diagnosed as high-risk of cervical cancer.

"On the first occasion the officers state she was in a confused state. She is on this medication and it effected her capacity," added Mr. Sherriff.

"The surgery a month before seems the most likely trigger to these offences. The hair that broke the donkey's back."

District Judge Goldspring told a tearful Harries: "There is an issue regarding your thought process around vehicles when you have had alcohol.

"If you get into a car this much over the limit that car becomes a lethal weapon and to compound it there was a road traffic accident. You could have killed someone.

"Within five days you were back in the car over the limit and placed yourself and other road users in great peril. These readings are up there with the highest this court has ever heard of.

"It's a difficult case to sentence. The easiest thing in the world would be to send you to prison, but I have considered carefully the effect your behaviour has had on the children.

"The loss of their mother to custody and then being taken into care would be devastating and they are at an age where they may never recover from it.

"It would be easy to send you to prison, the guidelines make that a clear-cut decision and I feel I ought to, but I'm not going to."

Harries was also ordered to pay £85 costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

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