Hartlepool drink-drive fire officer subject to internal investigation after conviction

Gary Cawley.
Gary Cawley.

A fire chief is subject to an internal investigation by his employers after he was arrested and charged with drink-driving.

Gary Cawley, 52, who lives in Hartlepool, is Cleveland Fire Brigade’s director of business development.

He was arrested and appeared in court after he crashed into a the fence of a house near to his home while almost twice the legal drink drive limit.

Cawley pleaded guilty to drink-driving from March 25 when he appeared at Teesside Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

He was given a 16-month driving ban and fined £1,600 plus costs.

A brigade spokesman said: “Cleveland Fire Brigade can confirm that Mr Gary Cawley, director of business development was questioned by Cleveland Police on Saturday, March 25, and taken into police custody in regards to a vehicle accident in Hartlepool and an alleged criminal offence of ‘driving a motor vehicle with alcohol concentration above the prescribed limit in contravention of Section 5(1) (a) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Schedule 2 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988’.

“On Monday, April 10, Mr Gary Cawley attended Teesside Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty to the above offence. Mr Cawley was awarded a 16-month ban and £1,600 fine plus costs.

“The vehicle accident and the criminal offence of ‘driving a motor vehicle with alcohol concentration above the prescribed limit’ are currently subject to an internal Brigade investigation and therefore Cleveland Fire Brigade will not be commenting further.”

The court heard how Cawley got behind the wheel of his silver Mercedes at about 9pm after drinking with friends in a pub.

He crashed into a property’s fence but did not stop at the time, and instead went home.

Police followed a trail of debris including his front number plate which was left at the scene, which led them to Cawley’s address.

He was arrested after officers smelled alcohol. A breath test showed he had 60 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit is 35 microgrammes.

On sentencing Cawley, of Valley Drive, Hartlepool, the judge said the offence had been wholly out of character and hoped he would not lose his job as a result.

District Judge Meek said: “I wish you the very best.

“It would be sad indeed if further consequences flowed from this that meant you are no longer in employment.”

In mitigation, it was said Cawley had not planned to drive when he went for a drink after work.