Ex-EastEnders star fined over vodka-fuelled crash with child in car
Former EastEnders actress Rula Lenska crashed her car with her three-year-old grandson in the back after drinking vodka with Polish builders to toast the completion of her fence, a court has heard.
The 68-year-old admitted driving with 47 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of her breath and striking a parked car in Twickenham, west London, at just after 7pm on February 22. The legal limit is 35 micrograms.
Lenska's young grandson was inside her Kia when it rolled onto its side after she became distracted by emergency lights on her dashboard in the middle of Hospital Bridge Road.
Witnesses said they heard a loud bang and, after assisting Lenska and her grandson, told police they smelled alcohol on her breath.
Prosecutor Mary Atere said: "The force of the collision forces the car that the defendant was driving to flip over onto its side.
"Both the defendant and her grandson are removed via the boot of the vehicle.
"It is as a result of the witnesses claiming that they could smell alcohol on her breath that she is breath tested some 30 minutes later."
Seema Parikh, defending Lenska, told Wimbledon Magistrates' Court the incident has "haunted her every day since".
She said the actress had been riddled with guilt since the incident which saw her endanger the life of her "darling grandson".
Ms Parikh explained the actress had been too "traumatised" by the event to answer questions in police interview, but had given a prepared statement.
Describing the events that led to the crash, Ms Parikh said it was normal for Lenska to spend "cherished" time with her grandson on a Monday.
She added: "Earlier in the afternoon she has toasted the completion of her garden fence with her Polish builders and they had a vodka to drink."
The bench heard that Lenska felt "quite normal" later in the evening when her daughter asked her to drop the toddler home.
Ms Parikh said: "Her cat had been attacked. She had to take the cat to the vets and asked my client whether she would be able to drop him back to her home address that day."
Saying that Lenska felt "absolutely fine" by the evening, she continued: "She would not have risked her own grandson's life in this kind of situation.
"She is now thinking about this on a daily basis and it is just remorse and regret."
Chair of the bench Bukky Okunade said the offence had been aggravated by the fact that Lenska's grandson had been in the car and that she had collided with another vehicle.
The actress, of Hazledene Road, Chiswick, south west London, was disqualified from driving for 16 months, fined £410, and ordered to pay a surcharge of £41 as well as £85 in costs.
A statement released on behalf of Lenska said: "The incident of 22 February will always be engraved in her mind and she cannot express enough her remorse for what happened.
"She is thankful that no one was injured and would like to thank her friends, family and legal team for their committed support during this very difficult period.
"She looks forward to resuming her professional commitments and putting this matter behind her."