Castle owner appeals against drink-drive sentence
By Western Daily Press | Saturday, November 12, 2011, 09:00
A SOCIALITE crashed her Audi into a parked car before fleeing the scene, blaming stress following the death of her boyfriend at her castle.
Steven Penny was found dead in a swimming pool in March
Margarita Hamilton, 55, caused £4,000 worth of damage and wrote-off a Citroen estate after she hit it with her Audi TT then drove away.
Police later found the former record company boss in an underground car park, where they described her as staggering around drunk.
The incident came three months after her partner Steven Penny, 43, was found dead in the pool of her 16th-century castle after a party.
Hamilton pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention and failing to provide a specimen of breath at a police station.
She was handed a 30-month driving ban, 170 hours unpaid work and a curfew following the conviction but appealed against her sentence.
Bristol Crown Court was told police were called to reports of a crash involving a parked car in the city's Sydney Road, at 8pm, on June 19. The Citroen owner said the car was "written off" – as it had sustained £4,000 of damage, but was only worth £1,500.
Hamilton, who owns Walton Castle, in Clevedon, was seen making off from the scene. Police found her still inside her Audi TT in an underground car park in Bristol's Caledonian Road a short time later.
Neil Treharne, representing the crown, said: ''The Audi had damage to the front and the appellant was sat inside. After initially refusing to get out, she staggered towards a wall and had to use it to support herself. The officer said she smelt strongly of liquor."
Hamilton was arrested and taken to a nearby police station, but failed to register a full specimen of breath.
Mr Treharne told the court this was because she had blown around the machine's tube, as well as into it. He said an initial reading, taken from her brief puff into the reader, showed her to have about 86 micrograms of alcohol on her breath, about two-and- a-half times the legal limit.
Hamilton admitted driving without due care and attention and failing to provide a specimen of breath at Bristol Magistrates' Court on November 2. David Sonn, representing Hamilton, said his client had not attempted to fail to give a specimen. He said she had spiralled in to stress and anxiety since the death of Steve Penny, on March 12.
Father-of-two Mr Penny was found dead in the castle's underground swimming pool. It is not yet known how he died.
Judge Martin Picton adjourned the appeal hearing until a date to be set in the new year, after ruling that evidence should be given by witnesses about Hamilton's state at the time.
He suspended her unpaid work order and curfew hours.