A DRINK driver was quadruple the legal limit and on his way to buy more booze when he was caught by an off-duty police officer.

Wayne Emerson was staying with his brother in Basildon following the breakdown of his marriage of 22 years in May.

The pair had been having a barbecue and drinking all day.

Emerson decided to drive to a nearby Tesco when their stock of booze and food ran low.

The 52-year-old got behind the wheel of his Ford Ranger pick-up truck and was heading along West Mayne.

He was driving slowly as well as veering across multiple lanes of the road, catching the attention of a nearby officer.

The off-duty officer followed him to the Tesco in Laindon and kept track of the car until his on-duty colleagues arrived.

Emerson emerged from the store carrying another crate of lager and returned to his car.

A search of the car by the officers unearthed an open cider can in the car before he failed a roadside breath test.

He gave a reading of 153 mcgs of alcohol per 100mls of breath. The legal limit is 35.

He admitted drink driving and was handed a 16 week prison sentence suspended for 18 months at Colchester Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard Emerson was embarrassed at what he had done and regretted the decision to get behind the wheel.

He told the probation service he did not have underlying alcohol issues but was probably drinking too much at the time of the incident, in May, due to the previous breakdown of his relationship.

Chairman of the bench Robert Clubb said he had rarely seen such a high alcohol reading. Fortunately, we do not frequently see a reading which goes over our guidelines,” he said.

“Given the circumstances it undoubtedly crosses the custody threshold.

“We are suspending because of your lack of previous convictions and your early guilty plea.”

Emerson, of Diban Avenue, Hornchurch, must do 150 hours of unpaid work and was handed a three-year driving ban.

He must also pay £105 costs and a £128 victim surcharge.