January 24, 2015
Italian man spent two nights in Shrewsbury cell after translation problems
An Italian man spent two nights in a cell for failing to give a breath test because there was no interpreter to explain what to do, a court heard.
Mario Ciullo, who does not speak English, admitted failing to give a sample and driving without insurance.
But he avoided a hefty fine after Shrewsbury magistrates heard of his translation trouble.
The 34-year-old had turned up at two hearings to find no interpreter available so proceedings could no go ahead.
Eventually, five weeks after his arrest, an Italian translator was found but Ciullo, formerly of Edgecombe Way, Shrewsbury, had returned home for Christmas after finishing his temporary work contract in England. Now unemployed, he had to pay hundreds of pounds for return flights to face criminal charges.
And on Thursday he walked free from court with an 18-month conditional discharge. Shrewsbury magistrates also gave him a driving ban of 16 months.
But he was told that due to his early guilty plea and the time he had spent in custody he would not be fined or asked pay court costs. Failure to provide a specimen can carry a maximum fine of £5,000 or six months in prison.
Miss Becky Jones prosecuting said police spotted Ciullo driving “erratically” in a Kia Carens on Hereford Way on December 13.
They pulled him over and a road side breath test confirmed he was over the limit. But Ciullo was unable to complete a breath test back at the police station.
Mr Stephen Skully defending said: “This is a tale of problems with interpreters that has led to a five and a half week gap between this offence and my client making his first effective appearance before the court today.
“He admits drinking and accepts the fact he was uninsured.
“He gave a road side breath test and when he got to the police station an interpreter was provide by a language line which informed him of his right to a solicitor and to inform someone of his arrest.
“He did try to provide samples of breath but he could not understand what the officers were telling him.”
“He was remanded in custody on December 13. Although he had an address in the Shrewsbury area at that time, police thought he might leave the country, despite him having no previous convictions.
“He appeared before Telford magistrates on December 15 when they were unable to locate an interpreter and I understand he spent most of the day in custody before being released on bail to attend court on December 18.
“On that day again no interpreter was present. In the meantime he has returned to his native Italy and has therefore had to pay for his return flight to attend court today.”
He told magistrates: “Given what has happened to him and the time he has spent in custody due to these proceedings I am going to ask you to depart from your guidelines in his favour and consider a period of conditional discharge.”