‘Disease made me look like a drunk’

William Shaw
William Shaw

A MAN who was arrested for being drunk and disorderly claims he shouted out at police officers because of a rare medical condition he suffers from.

William Shaw, 58, suffers from Meniere’s Disease, which irritates the inner ear and affects up to one in 20,000 people and makes him look like he has had a drink when in fact he has not.

The dad-of-four and granddad-of-three appeared before Hartlepool Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty to being drunk and disorderly following an incident at Tesco Express, in Villiers Street, Hartlepool, when he hurled abuse at police officers who believed he had been drinking.

Shaw, of Uppingham Street, Hartlepool, insists he wasn’t drunk but said he admitted to the offence because he was “sorry” about being abusive to the officers at the time. He said it was the third time he had been stopped by police community support officers, and was “frustrated”.

Prosecuting, Chris Atkinson told justices: “It was 5.20pm on Friday, January 6, when PCSOs were called to the Tesco store and spoke to the defendant who became abusive to them.

“A police officer arrived, and it became apparent he was drunk.

“The officer warned the defendant that if he continued in a similar vein he would be arrested for being drunk and disorderly.

“The response was to swear at the police officer and he was arrested.”

Shaw’s solicitor, John Relton, told the court: “My client suffers with Meniere’s Disease which effects the balance of the sufferer and makes him look intoxicated.

“Just watch him when he walks out of court today, your worships. For his conduct towards the police officers though, he is sorry.”

Chairman of the bench Anthony Raine fined Shaw £50, ordered him to pay £45 costs and a £15 victim surcharge, and told him to refrain from swearing at police officers who are trying to do their job.

Mr Raine said: “What you’ve got to do is just walk away.”

Shaw replied: “If I can walk in a straight line that is.”

Speaking after the court hearing, Shaw, who has suffered with the disease for four years and has also had two minor strokes, said: “This is the third time now I’ve been stopped by police who think I’m drunk.

“I shouldn’t have swore at the police officer and PCSOs but where I come from you give as good as you get. I am sorry about that though, I shouldn’t have done it, and I pleaded guilty.”

The single father-of-four, who has been married three times, added: “Because you’re wobbling all over the place they think you’re drunk.

“It gets on my nerves but I suppose it’s what they’re going to think when they see someone stumbling about. I can see people thinking, ‘what’s he had’.

“I constantly feel like I’ve been spinning round, you know like when you’re a kid and you play that spinning game? That’s how I feel all the time. It’s really awful.

“I’m on six tablets a day for it but it doesn’t really help. I used to be a shopfitter but I couldn’t even hold a hammer now. Can you imagine me up a ladder?”