A Royal Mail delivery driver has been sacked for drink driving after he was called in to work on his week off because the office was ‘really busy’.
Daniel Austin had already drunk a large amount of strong cider when he received the call from bosses asking him to work at short notice during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Austin walked to the delivery office and when he got there colleagues raised concerns about his condition with two managers.
Daniel Austin, from Staffordshire, has lost his job and been convicted of drink driving after he was found to be drunk while behind the wheel of his Royal Mail delivery van. Austin says he was called into work at short notice on his week off during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic
But the 40-year-old was instructed to drive one of the delivery vans – and was caught drink-driving soon after.
North Staffordshire Justice Centre has heard how Mr Austin believes a manager reported him to police.
The court heard Mr Austin had left it a couple of hours before going to work. Police discovered him on Saturn Road, Smallthorne, on April 9.
Prosecutor Jacqueline Coley-Fisher said: ‘At the time of the incident Austin was working for Royal Mail and was driving a Peugeot Partner delivery van.
‘He was seen to be unsteady on his feet and the police were contacted. Police officers arrived and spoke to Austin.
‘A roadside breath test was carried out. He was arrested and conveyed to the police station.’
Mr Austin, of Tunstall, gave an alcohol reading of 108 micrograms in 100 millilitres of breath.
The legal limit is 35. He pleaded guilty to drink-driving. He has no previous convictions or cautions and had a clean driving record.
James Hulse, mitigating, said the defendant had found out his father had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour and had gone to drink himself ‘to oblivion’ when he received the call from his employer.
He said: ‘He was off work the week the offence was committed. He finds out his father has a terminal brain tumour.
‘He’s off work so he thinks I’m going to drink myself to oblivion as I don’t want to think about this. He consumed a large amount of strong cider.
‘Then work ring and say they are really busy, in the middle of the pandemic, and ask ‘can you come in?’. He thinks he’ll leave it a couple of hours and it should be alright.
‘He walks to work, sees two colleagues, and they say to him that they don’t think he’s in a fit state to be in work. They can see he is under the influence of alcohol.
‘They go to speak to two managers who make the decision not to do anything and tell him to go out in the delivery van and do what he is accustomed to.
‘Mr Austin believes it is one of those managers who, after he left, rang the police. The police were located at his first drop-off and he had delivered one parcel.
The court heart Austin was ‘drinking himself into oblivion’ after discovering his father had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour and waited two hours before going into work
‘He’s then arrested, he was fully compliant with the police. There have been disciplinary proceedings with Royal Mail.
‘Instead of saying he could be signposted to mental health or social services they dismiss him after 22 years despite his alcohol use being a result of the devastating news about his father’s brain tumour.
‘It is frustrating that a large organisation just turned a blind eye to that. He attended unfit for work on a day he was not supposed to be in work.
‘He holds a real grudge against Royal Mail for how he feels he was treated by them.
‘He is someone of good character and the driving disqualification will impact him in the short term and long term even when the disqualification has expired.’
Royal Mail has come under fire from Mr Austin’s family who has accused the company of being ‘negligent’ and called for the introduction of random drug and alcohol tests.
Following the drink-drive case, mum Angela Marsden said: ‘I am disappointed, and extremely concerned, that Royal Mail allowed my son to drive a vehicle.
‘Managers had been made aware by work colleagues that Daniel appeared to be under the influence of drink and had been drinking the night before.
‘Daniel was not on duty that day and was called in as they were short-staffed.
‘In my opinion, Royal Mail should have had a duty of care to my son and sent him home.
‘I feel that Royal Mail is in some way negligent and should be held to account for this
‘Royal Mail never does random drug or alcohol tests and I feel this would be a way forward to prevent the same happening again.
Austin was handed 12-month community order, told to complete 80 hours unpaid work
‘Daniel worked for Royal Mail for 22-years and had an unblemished record. He now has no job or driving licence and a criminal record.
‘I am no way trying to absolve my son of his responsibility. But Daniel was under the influence of drink and was still given the keys to a Royal Mail vehicle.’
Magistrates handed Mr Austin a 12-month community order. He must also complete 80 hours unpaid work and was banned from driving for 26 months. He must pay £400 costs and a £90 victim surcharge.
Royal Mail is standing by its decision to sack Mr Austin.
Following the case, a Royal Mail spokesman said: ‘Although we cannot comment on the details of individual cases, we can confirm that the correct procedures were followed in this matter.’