Former council leader banned after drink-driving conviction

Ray Oxby, pictured near Grimsby Magistrates' Court last week.
Ray Oxby, pictured near Grimsby Magistrates' Court last week.

The former leader of North East Lincolnshire Council has been banned from driving for 28 months and ordered to pay more than £1,100 in court costs and fines after pleading guilty to drink driving.

Ray Oxby, 63, of Dursley Avenue, New Waltham, appeared at Grimsby Magistrates Court on Tuesday charged with driving with 224mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood. The legal limit is 80mg.

The court was told the incident followed a break down by Mr Oxby due to the controversial Toll Bar Roundabout decision.

The incident took place on February 28, and saw Mr Oxby reverse his Nissan X-Trail into the wall.

Former Labour Group leader Mr Oxby, who appeared in a navy suit, white shirt and yellow tie pleaded guilty to the charge.

Prosecutor Kate Fairburn told the court Mr Oxby had visited a Spar shop in Waltham at around 5.40pm that evening where he had purchased a bottle of vodka.

A store assistant, interviewed later, reported she believed he had been drinking prior to visiting the shop.

He was seen on CCTV several times leaving his house between then and 6.25pm where he collided with his garden wall while reversing out of his drive.

He was later found around the corner by a neighbour who reported his head to be slumped and the smell of alcohol from the vehicle.

Mr Oxby’s wife later returned home and parked the car in the drive, police were called and Mr Oxby was interviewed by police who he told he had drunk two bottles of wine as well as the vodka.

Mr Oxby, gave a breathalyser test, before being taken to the police station where he also undertook a blood test. His alcohol level was calculated later by forensics.

When interviewed by police, he told them he had an alcohol problem “due to stress at work,” said Mrs Fairburn.

She added that he told police he “had not been popular in the New Waltham area” due to issues with Toll Bar Roundabour.

Defending Saleem Khan, from Mike Culshaw and Co, told the court how Mr Oxby had “suffered very badly at the hands of the local community”.

“He has a very good level of public service and has served his community for a number of years. He has always tried to do the best for them,” he said.

He said Mr Oxby’s vehicle had been smeared with tar, and dog faeces had been pushed through his letterbox.

“He was subjected to vitriol and hatred at the hands of the local community. His wife in particular has suffered, it’s led to the defendant and his wife being prisoners in their own home at times,” he added.

“He sought solace in alcohol at times to make the feelings of depression and anxiety go away.”

Mr Khan told the court Mr Oxby was still dedicated to public service and had recently undertaken a number of community roles.

The court was also provided with a number of character references.

District Judge Daniel Curtis, handing down the sentence, said it was clear that Mr Oxby had been a man of good character who had “served his community with a level of distinction.”

He praised Mr Oxby for taking early action to address his situation, however, warned him: “You took a significant risk getting behind the wheel of your car. I can never underestimate the risk of carnage, destruction and despair drink-driving causes across this nation.”

However, he said he was “well acquainted with having to make difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions” and was critical of those who took it upon themselves to intrude in people’s private lives because of it.

“I am sure it would have taken considerable toll on you and it’s entirely out of your character to behave in the way you did,” he added.

Handing the ban down, Mr Curtis also ordered Mr Oxby to pay a £1,000 fine, £100 victim surcharge and £85 costs.

Mr Oxby announced he was resigning as leader of both the Labour group and North East Lincolnshire Council on March 11, blaming health reasons and personal abuse.

Mr Oxby, who had been leader since 2015, said he wanted to spend more time with his family, particularly his grandchildren, when he stepped down.