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Man who went to check up on brother he believed to be in ‘poor company’ caught drink driving

Defence said: 'He has never been in trouble before and he thought he was sober at the time'

A man who drove whilst over the limit to check up on his brother who he believed to be in “poor company” has been disqualified from driving for 12 months.

The 40-year-old’s solicitor told court: “It was whilst en route that he was detected by police. He has never been in trouble before and he thought he was sober at the time.”

Janis Matuzelis, of Lisanally Gardens, Armagh pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol at the city’s Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

It was heard that on June 14, at around 12.30am, police stopped the defendant driving a Volkswagen Golf on Barrack Hill, Armagh.

Officers noted a strong smell of intoxicating liquor and carried out a preliminary breath test which resulted in a fail.

Matuzelis was subsequently arrested and taken to Dungannon Custody Suite where a reading of 56mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath was obtained.

Defence solicitor Oisin Toner stated: “This man is originally from Latvia. He  has lived in this jurisdiction for 15 years, he has found employment in a factory and came to this country for a better life.

“He left work on the previous day around 5pm and went to have a few drinks with friends.”

He continued: “Later that evening he was informed that his older brother was with poor company. Initially he thought his brother was old enough to look after himself but on reflection decided to check up on him.

“It was whilst en route that he was detected by police. He has never been in trouble before and he thought he was sober at the time.”

Deputy District Judge Sean O’Hare stated: “You come before the court with a virtually clear record. This was a relatively low reading but it was still excessive and there is no excuse.”

Matuzelis was disqualified from driving for 12 months and ordered to pay a fine of £250, along with the offender’s levy of £15, within 16 weeks.

He was certified for the drink driving course which would see his ban reduced to one of nine months if completed.

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