Drunk scientist drove on footpath before claiming her dog was driving

The dog did it! Drunken female scientist, 47, took five goes to reverse out of car park then hit a bus stop before telling police it was because her pet Lily was behind the wheel

  • Melissa Jenkins Johanson, 47, was drunk driving at midday in February
  • She drove along a footpath next to a playground in Fishguard, Pembrokshire 
  • When police visited her home shortly after, she claimed her dog was driving 
  • Johanson was previously banned from driving for being drunk behind the wheel 

A drunk woman who drove down a footpath thinking it was a road later claimed to police her dog was driving the car. 

Scientist Melissa Jenkins Johanson, 47, was previously banned from the road for drunk driving last November. 

In February, she drunkenly tried to reverse out of a car park four times at midday in Fishguard, Pembrokeshire after leaving the Ocean Café Bar and Restaurant. An onlooker eventually noticed her drunken state and phoned the police. 

Ms Johanson reversed out of the car park at the fifth attempt and drove down the footpath before colliding with a bus stop just metres from a children’s play area, Swansea Crown Court heard. 

Hannah George, prosecuting, told the court how members of staff in the café ran outside to alert families that Ms Johanson was driving on the footpath.

‘She eventually went onto the main road where she paused for several minutes,’ Ms George told the court. 

‘She then went to the Seaview Hotel and then went on to Tesco, where she was caught on CCTV footage.’

Melissa Jenkins Johanson, 47, blamed her reckless actions on her pet dog Lily when police went to her home

‘She was doing some shopping?’ sitting Judge Huw Rees asked in disbelief. ‘Yes,’ Ms George replied. Judge Rees said Ms Johanson’s actions ‘beggared belief’. 

When two officers from Dyfed Powys Police visited Ms Johanson at her home, she blamed her driving on her dog, Lily.

‘The officers arrived at her address and found the car substantially damaged,’ Ms George continued. ‘The officers then entered the property and were immediately hit with the smell of alcohol. 

‘She asked the police if they had any proof for her arrest and then said her friend had driven the car and also that her dog Lily drove the vehicle.’

The defendant was then asked to take a breathaliser but refused. She was then taken into custody and asked again to provide a blood sample, which she also refused.

‘Presumably because she was so intoxicated,’ Judge Rees responded. ‘She was babbling incoherent nonsense about her dog for a start.’

Eyewitnesses said they saw Ms Johanson driving around the park with a half-drunk bottle of wine in car and no thought for anyone around her. 

Dean Pulling, for Ms Johanson, said his client was a professional woman who had held down a job in in food manufacturing for 20 years. 

Ms Johanson drunkenly reversed her car five time on the Parrog in Fishguard, Pembrokeshire before driving onto the footpath as stunned families watched 

He also said she had a long history of mental health difficulties, and has been diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder.

Mr Pulling also pointed out that Ms Johanson was driving at a relatively slow speed and did not injure anyone. 

He told the court: ‘She did not seem to be driving erratically, and the incident did not involve any form of police pursuit.’

Due to her cooperation with her community service order handed to her for her previous offence in November. 

Mr Pulling explained that he thought there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation in the case. ‘Prior to November she had no previous convictions,’ he added.

Turning to the defendant, Judge Rees said: ‘For some considerable period in recent years drink has been your nemesis. 

‘On November last year you were convicted of driving a vehicle while under the influence of excess alcohol. You were given an opportunity under the auspices of a 12-month community order to which your response has been slow in part.

‘On February 15 this year you committed these offences. You were disqualified from driving only three months before. You had consumed alcohol and for that reason you failed to provide a specimen.

‘When police arrived at your address there was an all-consuming smell of alcohol. In your babbling incoherence you showed how intoxicated you were. 

‘You were driving in this state in and around Ocean View car park. It is an area of open land which includes a children’s play area, and you were there at midday.

‘You made four attempts to reverse out of the car park before then mounting the footpath – clearly not for driving on. You must have thought it was the road out.

‘Your attitude towards the offending causes additional concern. You failed to attend the interview with the probation officer, and you had an unsatisfactory response initially to your community order. Your attitude towards Dyfed Alcohol and Drug Programme has been sporadic engagement.

‘Whatever your assessment of this is, let me be very clear – your offending is very serious. Your selfish decision to drink alcohol in large measure and your ignorance to the consequences meant someone, perhaps a child, could have been seriously injured, maimed, or even killed.’

Taking into account Ms Johanson’s ‘background of stability and education’ as well as her ‘good employment history’ and eventual cooperation with a community order, Judge Rees sentenced the defendant to 12 months, suspended for 18 months. 

She must complete a 15-day rehabilitation course, 150 hours of unpaid work and ensure she visits Swansea Crown each month before a judge to monitor her progress with regard to alcohol consumption. 

She is also disqualified from driving for three years.

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