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Drink drive police officer spared jail
2:19pm Friday 14th December 2012 in Bury
A police officer who was found guilty of drink-driving after a crash which left his friend dead has been spared a jail sentence.
Brendan Buggie, aged 39, was handed a four-month suspended jail sentence at Bradford Crown Court today after being convicted of drink-driving.
He was cleared by a jury last month of causing Justyna Stanczak's death by careless driving.
Buggie, who was suspended from Greater Manchester Police following the collision in December 2011, resigned from the force today.
The former officer had drunk around six pints and was between one-and-a-half to two times over the legal limit when he ploughed his sports car into a parked van on the A56 in Ramsbottom, in appalling weather conditions.
Miss Stanczak, 26, who was in the front seat of Buggie's Toyota Celica, died later.
The pair had recently started a relationship after Buggie split up with his girlfriend of three years.
The court heard that Buggie, who had six previous speeding offences, had not intended to drive but offered Miss Stanczak a lift back to her Bury home after his ex-girlfriend's mother saw them returning to his house.
Judge Colin Burn described the decision taken by Buggie to drive that night as "catastrophic".
He said: "The decision to drive and to go on to drive in appalling weather conditions when you were anything between one-and-a-half and just under two times the legal limit, that decision to drive and your being the driver led indirectly to the collision which caused the death of Miss Stanczak."
Judge Burn continued: "You were, at the time, a serving police officer and I am bound to observe, and the public would also expect me to observe, that makes the decision even more incredible in many ways and certainly more reprehensible."
Judge Burn told Buggie: "I also accept you are remorseful about this catastrophic decision that you took."
The judge suspended Buggie's four-month jail sentence for 18 months.
He also ordered him to attend a 14-week drink-impaired drivers programme and made an 18-month supervision order.
Buggie was disqualified from driving for 18 months and made subject of a curfew order for 30 days.
The trial last month heard that Buggie had spent the afternoon drinking and met Miss Stanczak after her shift at a bar on a freezing night.
He offered her a lift home at around midnight, fearing that his ex-girlfriend might turn up at his house.
Buggie told the court he felt sober when he got behind the wheel and was driving within the 40mph speed limit.
Expert witnesses told the jury the road was extremely icy and the conditions treacherous.
Some drivers reported travelling as slowly as 20mph on other stretches nearby and a local taxi firm suspended all service due to the conditions.
After the collision, Buggie called 999 and attempted to administer first aid to Miss Stanczak, who died of massive internal bleeding in hospital hours later.
He immediately admitted that he had been drinking before getting into his car.
Judge Burn said it was understandable that Buggie had been acquitted of causing death by careless driving because there was little or no evidence of his manner of driving that evening.
Robin Sellers, defending Buggie, said his client, a police officer for 17 years, was "destined to fall from grace" as a consequence of his actions.