High Peak driver’s life devastated by wrongful drug driving conviction

A police drug drive test.
A police drug drive test.

The mother of a young motorist wrongfully convicted of drug driving has told how his life was left devastated by an ‘unreliable’ toxicology test - part of a national ‘data manipulation’ scandal.

Daniel Wood, 23, was banned from driving for a year when he gave a blood sample found to be over the driving limit for cannabis.

After his arrest and conviction Daniel admitted to family he had been an occasional cannabis user.

As a result he assumed the drug had been in his system for a while when police pulled him over in October 2016 - and the blood sample found to contain a reading of 2.2ug/1 was correct.

However the car valeter was shocked to receive a letter from the Crown Prosecution Service in December last year informing him the toxicology test on which evidence against him was based was ‘not reliable’.

There was in fact no trace of cannabis in his blood stream at all and Daniel’s conviction was overturned on Monday this week at Manchester Magistrates’ Court.

Daniel’s sample is one of thousands being retested following an ongoing investigation into alleged data manipulation at Randox Testing Services laboratory.

He is now seeking compensation, including loss of earnings and the extra cost of insurance premiums for his Kia Rio - which rocketed from £700 to £1,600 a year.

Mum Andrea Wood, 55, said her son, who had struggled to find work since the conviction, had been left ‘seriously affected’.

She said: “He has dyspraxia and struggles to communicate so when a friend brought him home the morning after he was first arrested he was mortified and crying - he’s been quite depressed about it all.”

As well as being fined £300 Daniel lost his job as a car valeter as he was unable to drive vehicles at work anymore and became ‘very down’ and ‘depressed’.

Daniel’s relationship started to feel the strain as he was no longer able to drive to visit his girlfriend in Sale, Manchester.

The Furness Vale man was ‘mortified’ when his conviction was printed in the Buxton Advertiser and lived in constant fear that her parents would find out.

Speaking about Daniel’s overturned conviction Andrea said: “It was horrible for him having to be behind the screen when he was first convicted like a criminal and even when he was cleared on Monday he was still nervous.

“When we got the letter form the CPS in December it was quite a pleasant surprise but our first reaction was he could still have been in a job - he could have been earning and saving for a house deposit.

“We’re hoping for compensation - not just for the difference in insurance costs and loss of earnings but for the general effect all this has had.”

Matthew Harvey, District Crown Prosecutor with Mersey Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, said: “If a retest has shown that no offence was committed or a sample can no longer be tested the CPS has rightly written to the defence who can then apply to the court to quash the earlier conviction.

“When retests have come back positive the convictions have remained in place - this process will continue to ensure that fairness and transparency in the system is maintained.”