A BEREAVED mother arrested for drink driving after her car crashed on a street in Carlisle said she had a hammer and a police-style baton in her car “for protection.”

The defence lawyer who represented 37-year-old Heads Nook woman Helen Keiling told Carlisle’s Rickergate court there was a tragic background to the Boxing Day incident which led to the defendant being prosecuted.

She admitted drink driving and possessing two offensive weapons without a lawful excuse.

The offences came to light on December 26 last year after police were called to an accident on Westrigg Road, Carlisle, which involved Keiling’s Seat car crashing into a metal post, prosecutor Pamela Fee told the court.

When the officers arrived, the car was unoccupied.

But within seconds Keiling approached the officers and identified herself as the driver. She also admitted that she had been drinking alcohol. A breath test confirmed she had 66mcg of alcohol in every 100mls of breath.

The legal limit for driving is 35mcg.

The officers found the hammer and the baton when they searched her car.  When asked about them, Keiling said: "They’re for my protection.”

Miss Fee said: “She was asked about the incident and said she'd drank too much and lost control [of the car]. She said she should not have been drink-driving.”

A woman of previous good character, Keiling said she had held a licence for nearly 20 years and what happened was “completely out of character.”

She told the police she had lost her partner and suffered “harassment” following his death during the Covid pandemic. She also apologised for her behaviour but said that she had suffered “trauma and stress.”

She went on to tell police that she was being threatened by a man who was “just out of jail.”

When she reported that threat, she said, it took the police “two or three hours” to respond.

“So, no, I didn’t feel like you had my back,” she added.

John Greenwood, defending, described the case as “sad,” saying that Keiling had lost her partner three years before the drink driving incident.

In 2007, the man who became her partner had set up a security business which became very successful, and three years later Keiling and he began a relationship. She began working with him in the business in 2015.

But in December 2020, during the pandemic, her partner fell ill and went into intensive care. He died “vey suddenly” on January 28, 2021.

“Miss Keiling did her best in the circumstances,” said Mr Greenwood. "She ran the business – but then received a solicitor’s letter explaining that the shares of the security business were in her late partner’s name."

Because he left no will, his family were deemed to be his next of kin, explained Mr Greenwood.  “She was forced to resign as a director of that business – the business she had continued to run since he died in January, 2021.

The lawyer said there had been an incident when Keiling was in her car with her child when it was "surrounded" by people and she had been physically threatened by a male, the person she told police had just come out of jail.

“That is why she had those items in the car," said Mr Greenwood.

"With the benefit of hindsight, she realised that she should not have done that but it explains why they were there… She has had a very hard time in the last three years since her partner went into hospital and he died.

“She was drinking on Christmas Day and can’t explain why she went out... She had only driven 200 yards when she hit the post. She needed to get out of the house and made a massive error of judgement."

Magistrates imposed a one-year community order with 10 rehabilitation activity days, and £40 fine, with £85 costs and a £114 victim surcharge.

For the drink driving, she was given a 17-month ban but magistrates offered the drink drover rehabilitation course, which will reduce the ban if completed by a deadline.