A bus driver from Melksham seen drinking Special Brew while on duty has been banned from driving for 18 months and fined over £200.

Stephen Ackland, 55, of Ferris Grove, Melksham, was seen drinking a can of super-strength lager outside Sainsbury’s in Frome on January 24, before getting into his bus. A member of the public reported the sighting to Avon and Somerset Police, who alerted officers in Melksham.

He was stopped by officers in Melksham’s Market Place, some 15 miles away, after he had driven the bus through Trowbridge. He was found to have 86 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, and arrested.

Appearing at North West Wiltshire Magistrates Court today, Ackland was banned from driving for 18 months and fined a total of £215.

He was fired from his job at Faresaver following his arrest, and is currently claiming Income Support benefit.

His solicitor, Moses Uzodima-Tawo, said: “He is a professional driver, and he has, I understand, lost his job as a consequence and his chosen career is in tatters, so he will have to make another choice of career.”

In passing sentence magistrate David Morrell said: “Driving with excess alcohol is normally a very serious offence, but this is much worse as you are a bus driver and charge of the public’s safety.

“I am prepared to offer a drink-driver’s rehabilitation course.”

If Mr Ackland completes the course by February 2014 he will be allowed to regain his licence four months early. He was also fined a total of £215, which he will repay to the court in instalments.