A French DJ has been jailed for a year for drunkenly driving on the wrong side of the road during his first visit to the island, crashing three times, and urinating on a 'Go Wild' gorilla, after his wife told him she wanted a divorce.
Appearing in the Royal Court today facing two counts of dangerous driving, one of failing to stop and report an accident and one of driving whilst over the prescribed alcohol limit, Bertrand Ollivier Le Goff (46) was also banned from driving for four years.
The Court heard the charges all arose from the night of 12 October 2019, during Le Goff’s first ever visit to the island. He had travelled from France with his car – a Volkswagen Passat – for an overnight stay he had booked as a birthday present for his wife.
As the couple who had been married for 22 years was experiencing issues, Le Goff hoped the visit would bring them closer.
Pictured: Le Goff drove against traffic on Gloucester Street.
However, they fell out during dinner – during which Le Goff admitted he had drunk three or four glasses of wine – and Le Goff’s wife told him she wanted a divorce.
Le Goff then left the hotel and got in his car, the Court heard. CCTV images showed him heading west on the wrong side of the Esplanade at around 20:40 before turning right on a “busy” Gloucester street, against the direction of traffic.
An islander parked nearby noticed Le Goff’s “quick” and “dangerous” driving and followed him onto Seaton Place. She saw him mount the pavement as he turned onto Seale Street and honked as he turned right onto York Street, ignoring the one-way system.
Just before 21:00, Le Goff was seen urinating on a life-size gorilla sculpture displayed at Le Hocq as part of Durrell’s ‘Go Wild Gorillas’ trail, having left his car at the nearby bus stop with its engine still running.
A man shouted at him to go to the public toilets nearby, but Le Goff simply shouted something back in French before drove away on the wrong side of the road.
Pictured: Le Goff drove on, leaving what Crown Advocate Matthew Maletroit described as a “trail of destruction” throughout St. Martin and Trinity.
Roughly 30 minutes later, as Le Goff was spotted driving along Gorey Coast Road on the wrong side, he drove head-on at “high speed” into another vehicle before driving on and mounting the pavement as he left.
The crash caused £4,000 of damage and associated costs for the driver, who, the Court noted, was fortunately not injured.
Le Goff then crashed head-on into a bank in St. Martin, leaving rubble and car parts behind. He then drove on, leaving what Crown Advocate Matthew Maletroit described as a “trail of destruction” throughout St. Martin and Trinity.
Part of his bumper was found near St Martin’s Arsenal, while several shredded tyre parts were recovered near St. Martin’s School and Jersey Zoo. A Traffic Officer said the tyres would only have shredded after they had been deflated and driven on.
The following morning, at around 05:14, Le Goff called the police to report he was lost and had crashed his car. He was found in Trinity, with his car so badly damaged it could not be driven further.
Pictured: Le Goff said he had drunk three or four glasses of wine over dinner.
A States Analyst concluded that, at the time of the collision in Gorey, Le Goff’s breath alcohol concentration would have been over the prescribed limit - 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 ml of breath – with the most likely concentration being 104 micrograms in 100 ml.
Le Goff told officers he didn’t remember anything after leaving the hotel until he had woken up in the car, having crashed into a wall.
The Crown described the night as a “prolonged episode” during which Le Goff, whom he described as significantly intoxicated, showed “deliberate disregard for his safety and that of others".
Referring to an “act of drunken stupidity” - or, in Le Goff’s own words, “total madness” - the Crown Advocate said it was “extremely fortunate” no one had been injured by the numerous incidents of driving on the wrong side of the road, noting the car itself could have caused harm.
He recommended an 18-month prison sentence, and a five-year disqualification.
Pictured: Advocate Luke Sette was representing Le Goff.
Advocate Luke Sette, defending, said Le Goff had never driven outside of France before that night.
He said his client struggled to understand his actions and had been profoundly shocked - a disbelief shared by those around him.
The defence lawyer added that Le Goff – who was crying during most of the hearing – had struggled with his emotions throughout the proceedings.
He told Court Le Goff had been through challenging times in his life, including a “horrendous work-related injury” during which he lost part of his leg in 2015.
He explained that since then Le Goff had been unable to work and had taken a “key role” in caring for his three children.
Advocate Sette noted that Le Goff’s mental health had been on a “downward spiral” after the accident, for which he was still trying to get compensation having only received a food basket from his employer.
He voiced concerns over the “practical problems” prison would cause to Le Goff as he had neither access to a specialist able to assist with his prosthetic limb, nor to his “vital” mental health treatment.
Pictured: The Deputy Bailiff Robert MacRae described the case as an “extremely severe example of dangerous driving over a long period”.
Handing out the Court’s sentence, the Deputy Bailiff Robert MacRae – who was sitting with Jurats Rozane Thomas and Robert Christensen – told Le Goff he had driven “a substantial distance, probably over 10 miles, with no regard at all for the safety of others”.
“It is a matter of good fortune no one was seriously injured or killed by your driving,” he added, referring to Le Goff’s wife who said he had endangered his life and others’.
The Deputy Bailiff described the case as an “extremely severe example of dangerous driving over a long period” for which prison was the only appropriate sentence.
He however noted Le Goff’s “positive good character,” the “emotion” on his face and the contributions he had made to the care of his children as “a very dedicated father”, all of which he described as “exceptional… extremely strong mitigation”.
He said this had convinced the court to reduce the sentence proposed by the Court to 12 months in prison and a four-year driving ban.
He concluded: “The Court expresses the hope that when you return to France, you can start to rebuild your life and resume a professional qualification that the Court was told about.”
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