A SHOPPER who was three times the drink-drive limit told supermarket staff in Cardigan he could not find his car.

Gavin Wheeler, of Felindre Farchog, pleaded guilty to driving while over the legal alcohol limit when he appeared before Haverfordwest magistrates on Tuesday, January 22.

Vaughan Pritchard-Jones, prosecuting, told police that staff at Tesco, Cardigan, called the police at 3.15pm on December 27 because Wheeler, 46, was unable to find his VW Golf after being in the store and thought it may have been stolen.

“It was probably indicative of how drunk he was. Cardigan Tesco car park is not the biggest in west Wales,” said Mr Pritchard-Jones.

Police could smell alcohol when they spoke to Wheeler and he was found to have 106mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath, almost exactly three times the legal limit of 35mg.

Mr Pritchard-Jones added: “He admitted he had driven to the supermarket. In interview he said he had a lot to drink the previous night and all he had that morning was one gin and tonic.

“He was over three times the limit at 3.15pm in the afternoon.”

Stuart John, defending, said Wheeler, who was remorseful, knew he had a drink problem which needed to be addressed and was previously of clean character.

The court heard that Wheeler had worked as a physicist before moving to the area 10 years ago to help his ageing parents on their isolated farm, and had developed a drink problem.

Probation officer Julie Norman stated that Wheeler had been abstinent for two years but relapsed at Christmas.

Magistrates banned Wheeler from driving for two years and imposed a 12-month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work and a 10-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

Wheeler was ordered to pay £170 in costs and a surcharge.

The chairman of the bench said: “I think it’s very honourable that you were in a good career and gave it up to come and help on the farm.

“Unfortunately it had led you here today and that’s a sad thing.”