A businessman and entrepreneur who was described in court as an "asset" to the Newtown area was caught by police driving with cocaine in his system after visiting Lidl supermarket.

Michael Brown, aged 59, escaped being handed a community order and was instead given a 17-month ban after pleading guilty to drug driving his Mitsubishi L200 pick-up truck on October 27 last year.

Brown was found to have 240 micrograms of benzoylecgonine – the chemical derivative of cocaine – in his system. The legal limit is 50 micrograms. 

Morphine that was below the legal limit was also found in his blood which was prescribed to the self-confessed cannabis user following an operation on his back two years ago.


Prosecutor Helen Tench said Police Constable Richard Bufton noticed the pick-up truck on Llanidloes Road and followed it to Brown's home in Parklands, a short distance from Newtown police station, shortly after 4pm.

The officer described Brown as having a jaundiced look and his eyes were glazed, Welshpool Magistrates' Court was told on Tuesday, March 26.

Geraint Parry, acting on behalf of Brown, said: "He is extremely remorseful and was willing to go to the police station. He is embarrassed by what he’s done, and he knows that he will get a disqualification from driving.

"There was no collision or passengers involved. He drove a short distance from his address to Lidl and back, a distance of just two miles.

"There is no evidence that his standard of driving wasn’t acceptable.

"My client wants to stress that there was only one specified drug, and he wasn’t driving a goods vehicle."

Mr Parry added: "He is 59 years old. He has been living in Newtown for close to 30 years. He is an engineer, entrepreneur, and businessman. He also works with multiple companies.

"He is a director of a company which started with just 15 people and now employs more than 100 people. He is an asset to the area.

"Driving is a valuable part of his life. He is a very hard worker, and any ban would have a detrimental impact on his work life.

"Because of an operation on his back, he is in constant pain and cannot get comfortable walking long distances."

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Magistrates decided to hand Brown a 17-month driving disqualification and ordered him to pay a £1,000 fine, £400 victim surcharge and £85 prosecution costs.

Rebecca Klug, chair, said: "Even though it was a prescribed drug, the morphine you had was in your system and you took cocaine.

"It would normally carry a community order however we have heard substantial mitigation.

"There was no impaired driving involved, you only drove a short distance, you had a very serious operation two years ago and you are still in poor health, and you’ve clearly shown remorse today."