A BRADFORD on Avon man has been banned from driving for 17 months after he was convicted of driving his Mercedes Benz C220 while more than twice the alcohol limit on the Golden Valley Bypass near Cheltenham.

Mark Laycock, 54, of Avon Close, was stopped by police at 1am on May 4, when officers saw him "accelerate rapidly" away from the Arle Court roundabout, prosecutor Jeremy Oliver told Cheltenham Magistrates court.

Having provided a positive test on the roadside, Laycock, was taken to the police station where he provided a reading of 89mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath – the limit is 35mg.

"The officer caused him to stop on the slip road to the M5. He smelt of alcohol and seemed unsteady on his feet," Mr Oliver said.

Mr Oliver confirmed that there were "no aggravating features and there are no previous convictions recorded against him".

Defending, Matthew Harbinson asked the court to read a character reference that had been provided by a friend who had accompanied Laycock to Court.

"I'm very grateful you've taken the time to read it, as it relates to his personal circumstances. This is not just a man of good character, but a man of 'positive' good character'," Mr Harbinson said.

"There are three children under his sole care, by order of the court. He runs a care home business as his sole source of income. He is habitually resident in Bradford on Avon, however he has a partner in Cheltenham that he visits. He had visited her and spent the night out with her, before heading back to his home. "

Mr Harbinson went onto explain some of the difficulties the inevitable disqualification would entail for Laycock.

"The family are in the process of moving house to a rural location, and whilst there are school buses, as a father of three this ban will have an effect. He has executed a serious error of judgement by getting behind the wheel.

"There is no suggestion of a poor standard of driving, and accelerating rapidly in a performance car onto a dual carriageway is not poor driving. Maybe there was something else on the officer's mind, or maybe he had a quota to fill.

"My client is not seeking to advance any excuses. However everything about him flies in the face of what he has done. I ask you to consider the lowest possible disqualification in the bracket."

Chair of the Bench, Jennifer West, said: "We have read the reference, and listened carefully. It was more than twice the limit, but in all the circumstances we are prepared to come down in the disqualification bracket."

Laycock was also ordered to pay fines, court costs and surcharges totalling £910.