A ROYAL Navy sailor was caught drink-driving after an alert barman saw him drinking at a Helensburgh pub – and then getting behind the wheel to go home.

Ratu Ralawa's behaviour was branded "a disgrace" at a court hearing – at which it emerged that he had been convicted of a domestic assault charge just a few months earlier.

The 47-year-old provided a breath sample which was more than five times the legal limit after he went drinking in the Royal Bar in West Clyde Street on New Year's Day.

He was arrested by police while he sat in the driver's seat of a silver 4x4 in a car park near his Kent Drive home shortly after midnight the next day.

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He provided a positive breath sample and, later, two formal samples at a police station – the lower of which gave a reading of 119 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath.

The limit in Scotland is just 22 microgrammes.

Emma Petterson, prosecuting, told Dumbarton Sheriff Court on Friday: "At 7pm on January 1, the accused was in the Royal Bar in Helensburgh. The barman observed him drinking and was of the opinion he was drunk.

"At around midnight the barman contacted police, as he had seen the accused driving off.

"Police traced the accused at around 12.20am, in a car park outside his home. They spoke to the accused, who appeared to be very intoxicated."

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After identifying himself as the driver, Ralawa was taken to Greenock's police station; when formally cautioned and charged, he replied: "I've just been stupid."

Further police checks revealed that Ralawa only held a provisional licence, and that he was not insured to drive the car.

Judith Reid, defending, said Ralawa had pleaded guilty to the three driving charges at the earliest opportunity.

"It was a matter of complete stupidity," Ms Reid said.

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"I don't think there was any good reason at all for the driving; he took his wife's car without her permission.

"There will be a knock-on effect in the services: he tells me he will keep his job, but will be sanctioned separately by them in respect of this matter.

"He's going to have to deal with the consequences of his disqualification while continuing to support his family."

In December, Ralawa was ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work as a punishment for assaulting his partner at their home in August.

Sheriff John Hamilton – who handed out that sentence in December – told Ralawa at the January 31 hearing: "It's extremely disappointing that you are before me again. What a mess.

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"What a stupid thing to do. I've no idea what your commanding officer will think of this, but there must be a time when the question will be asked whether or not you are suitable to be a sailor in Her Majesty's Navy.

"Given what you have done to get yourself in the Navy, it's an absolute disgrace that you should put that in jeopardy by drinking and driving with no excuse whatsoever. It brings disgrace on your service."

Ralawa was banned from driving for 18 months and told to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work, on top of that December sentence.

The order was transferred to Portsmouth after the court was told Ralawa is based in the Hampshire town's naval base during the week, returning to Helensburgh only at weekends.

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