Drink driver's seven children in car crash

A female motorist who downed up to nine pints of lager before crashing a car carrying seven children avoided jail when she was handed a suspended prison sentence.

The 37-year-old woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had gone on a drinking binge before she got behind the wheel of the Ford Escort, Leeds Crown Court heard.

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The children in the back of the car were not wearing seat belts when it crashed into a bollard in Leeds, and it was fortunate no harm came to the youngsters when they were then left at the roadside as the woman went for help, the court was told.

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Matthew Bean, prosecuting, said the defendant had gone to a social club in Leeds on November 7 last year, and added: "She indicated at interview that she estimated drinking between eight and nine pints of lager."

The court heard that having set off with seven children in the car, while driving down Otley Old Road, the vehicle hit a bollard.

Police who were travelling down Otley Old Road at around 11.30pm found

the damaged unoccupied car with the keys still in the ignition.

"No adult was present," said Mr Bean. "There was a group of seven children standing a few metres from the car, distressed, and some were crying. The older children indicated to police officers that the defendant had left the scene."

Two of the children were said to be suffering back and neck pain, another was shaken, upset and crying, and another child suffering from a "very sore neck.".

The woman, who had earlier admitted child cruelty and driving with excess alcohol, had been disqualified from driving for 16months in 2005 for drink-driving.

She also had previous convictions for a wounding offence and criminal damage.

Kama Melly, for the woman, said her client accepted she should not have left the children, but had left to get help.

"She has expressed to me deep regret for her behaviour on that night

and accepts full responsibility for it," said Miss Melly.

The woman was sentenced to 26 weeks in jail suspended for 18 months for the cruelty charge and eight weeks in prison suspended for 18 months for driving over the proscribed limit, to run concurrently.

She was also given an 18-month supervision order, ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work and disqualified from driving for four years.

Update: Five arrests after Bradford to Leeds police chase crash