No police action over Juan’s drunken shame

EMBARRASED: Juan Watterson MHK

EMBARRASED: Juan Watterson MHK

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POLICE will not be investigating Home Affairs Minister Juan Watterson’s night of drunken shame.

The island’s youngest MHK, who has responsibility for the government’s drug and alcohol strategy, is nursing a political headache after disgracing himself following his department’s Christmas do.

Mr Watterson, 31, who joined the Council of Ministers in October, was forced to make an embarrassing public apology after it emerged he had been sick on board the late bus home to Port St Mary. The vehicle had to be taken out of service and the Rushen MHK paid the £60 clean-up bill.

Chief executive of the Department of Home Affairs Mark Kelly said police would not be investigating any allegations of a drink-related offence in connection with the incident.

He said: ‘A matter of that nature would not normally have attracted a police investigation as the individual was not disorderly or incapable.’

It is understood, however, the matters could have taken a different turn if the bus driver had opted to call the police.

The official definition of being drunk and incapable is when you are so drunk you can’t look after yourself – you can’t stand up or walk or you’re unaware of what you are doing or understand what is said to you.

Anyone found in that state is in the first instance treated as a medical emergency unless proved otherwise after being checked out at Noble’s Hospital.

If they are found to be medically OK, they are usually taken home but could end up in the police cells for the night to sober up, if they are considered to be a risk to themselves or others.

Police may decide to take no further action, give the individual a stern warning or official caution or they could charge them and have the matter dealt with in court, where a typical fine of £200 could be imposed.

There is also an offence of public drunkenness which police have at their disposal.

Director of public transport Ian Longworth said it was up to the individual bus driver to use their discretion on whether to call in outside help well dealing with incidents of drunkenness on board buses.

‘If he feels there’s a problem that he can’t deal with he radios the supervisor and we agree what help is required,’ said Mr Longworth.

All buses used at night are fitted with CCTV cameras which produce evidential quality images and Bus Vannin has an arrangement with the police, for officers to attend incidents where necessary.

Mr Watterson’s embarrassing drunken lapse came on the same day that, at a press conference, he urged festive revellers not to overdo things this Christmas (December 16).

Having gone on to attend his department’s Christmas do, he boarded the bus back home to Port St Mary afterwards, but fell asleep before he got to his destination.

The driver, unable to wake him, drove back to town with Mr Watterson on board. As the bus passed Santon, the MHK was sick – the incident being caught on the vehicle’s CCTV cameras.

The minister continued to be sick at the bus shelter once he got off at Lord Street. He then tried to get on the Night Owl bus but the inspector refused to allow him to board.

In a statement, the minister said: ‘I would like to sincerely apologise to all those who had to witness me drunk on Friday night.

‘I am mortified that I allowed my judgement to lapse so seriously. I hold myself to a higher standard and recognise that the public expect higher standards too from those in positions of responsibility.’

See more reaction to this story in the Isle of Man Examiner this week.

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