Simon Cliff, aged 55, has finally been sentenced for offence he committed in 2017
An alcoholic who admitted drinking half a bottle of vodka before driving fled to Thailand rather than ‘face the music’ in court.
Simon Cliff failed to provide a specimen of breath twice in a month after being pulled over back in 2017.
And following the second arrest he made homophobic comments to a police officer at the Northern Area Custody Facility in Etruria.
But rather than learn his fate in court, the defendant left the country and has only recently returned to the UK to spend time with his mum who has dementia.
Now 55-year-old Cliff has finally been sentenced to a 12-month community order at North Staffordshire Justice Centre.
Prosecutor Emma Pickard said police were called to Newcastle on September 20, 2017 after they received reports the defendant had been drink-driving.
Miss Pickard said: “He provided a positive roadside test and was taken to custody but refused to provide a sample.”
About a month later, on October 18, 2017, the police became aware of the defendant’s vehicle as it overtook two cars.
Miss Pickard said: “Police activated their blue lights. The defendant continued to drive erratically and overtook another two vehicles. Eventually he came to a stop. He confirmed he had consumed half a bottle of vodka and that he was an alcoholic.
“He was taken to custody but refused to give a specimen of breath.”
The defendant became abusive to a police officer in the custody suite.
Miss Pickard said: “The defendant began to call the officer ‘gay’ and ‘queer’ and made other homophobic comments.
“A solicitor not connected to the defendant asked him to stop.”
The victim found the abuse extremely upsetting and said he felt violated.
The defendant failed to attend court to learn his fate and returned to Thailand where he was living with his family.
Cliff, of Knowl Wall, Beech, pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to provide a specimen for analysis; indecent behaviour at a police station, and failing to surrender to bail.
Emma Wiseman, mitigating, said the defendant has been a high functioning alcoholic for most of his adult life.
In 2016 his daughter stopped having contact with him and he waited about 12 months before having some ‘Dutch courage’ and going to see her.
He was then hit with a non-molestation order before his second arrest and went to Thailand before being sentenced for the offences.
He has now returned to spend time with his mum.
As part of the community order Cliff must complete a rehabilitation activity requirement for five days and a drink-impaired drivers’ programme.
He was disqualified from driving for 12 months.
District Judge Timothy Boswell said: “Rather than face the music you chose to leave the country. You have been in Thailand for the majority of time since then where you have been running businesses.
“No police officer should have to put up with that kind of abuse.
“Your alcohol use, you say, is now under control.
“Your mother’s health is a factor in not imposing a prison sentence.”
Cliff was fined £200 and ordered to pay £270 costs and an £85 surcharge.