Former Tory councillor’s drink drive trial adjourned for third time

Posted On 28 Jun 2022 at 11:46 am
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The trial of a former Conservative councillor charged with drink driving was adjourned for a third time today because a crucial witness could not attend.

Joe Miller, 27, denies being over the limit when driving a black BMW 420 on the A27 at Hollingbury in September 2020.

His trial was listed for the third time at Brighton Magistrates Court today after the previous two listings were abandoned because of a lack of court time.

But after one of the police officers who pulled him over was signed off sick, the prosecution asked for the date to be vacated.

District judge Adrian Turner said: “When a hearing is adjourned because of a lack of court time, every effort should be made to ensure that it does not happen again.

“It’s most unfortunate indeed that matters have got this far and just a few days ago one of the prosecution witnesses, an important witness, was signed off work.”

John Dye, defending Miller, argued the case should go ahead – although without the policeman’s statement or bodyworn camera footage, as he could not be cross-examined.

He said: “This has been going on for two years and he’s privately funding the matter.

“The worst case scenario is that if you would let that evidence in, it would affect my ability to conduct the trial.

“We oppose the application because of the length of time this has been going on.”

But Mr Turner said: “This is clearly an important witness. It’s not satisfactory to use hearsay to avoid a short term witness problem.

“Defence want to question the witness and won’t be happy if evidence were presented unchallenged.

“The interest of justice comes down very firmly in favour of an adjournment. Despite the inconvenience, despite the cost. it’s the lesser evil by quite some distance.”

As the hearing started, Miller told the court he had moved back to an address in Slaugham Place, Slaugham, after briefly moving to Goring.

The defence case’s legal expert Joanne Caffrey attended in person for the third time, despite having to make the journey from Orkney.

Miller resigned in March with immediate effect as a councillor from both Brighton and Hove City Council, where he represented Rottingdean, and Lewes District Council.

He said this was because he is getting married and moving out of the area, and has nothing to do with the ongoing court proceedings.

Labour candidate Robert Mcintosh won a subsequent by-election in the Rottingdean ward on Thursday, 5 May.

Another Labour candidate, Ciarron Clarkson, won the by-election in his former Peacehaven West ward a week later.

The case has been adjourned until July 7 for a hearing to fix a new date for a trial.