A TEENAGER is being given a second chance to join the British Army as magistrates spared him a community order for offences he committed while on a "bender" in Herefordshire.

19-year-old Finlay Thomson, of Worrall Hill in Gloucestershire, has aspirations to work in infantry, with his training to begin in February this year after a long application process. But on August 2 last year, he was caught drug-driving in Ross-on-Wye.

When police tested his blood, it was found to contain 4.9 micrograms (mg) of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, 69mg of methylenedioxymethamphetamine, and 333mg of benzoylecgonine, meaning he had been using cannabis, MDMA and cocaine before getting behind the wheel of his VW Polo. His mother described his drug use on this day as a "bender".

His defence solicitor said that if he were to receive a community order, his recruitment would be delayed further, and instead asked magistrates to consider imposing a fine.

In a statement read out in court, Pat Harrison, lead recruiter at the British Army, said of Thomson: "He has overcome many obstacles and shows determination many people lack."


Agreeing to issue a financial penalty instead of a community order, to allow Thomson to join the army, magistrates said: "We're not going to lecture you on how silly you've been. We want you to go on to the forces as you intend to do and make a very good military representative, but we hope you can see what an effect this could have had on your future."

Thomson was disqualified from driving for 18 months and fined £200, with a victim surcharge of £80 and costs of £135.

Magistrates urged his parents, who were said to be financially supporting their teenage son, to ensure the full £415 was paid in full.