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Drink driver seen driving erratically told he is lucky he did not kill himself or someone else

Eyewitness tip-off to police took officers to his home

Drink driving Craigavon Court

A man who drove dangerously whilst over the limit has been handed a 16-month ban.

A district judge told the 33-year-old: “You were lucky you didn’t kill yourself or someone else with this driving.”

Paul Branagan, 33, of Ballyeden Meadows, Magheralin, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and driving with excess alcohol at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

Court heard that on September 14, police received reports of a van being driven erratically on the Belfast Road, Magheralin.

The member of the public who spotted the vehicle at around 9.20pm told police the registration plate of the van.

Officers went to the home of the last registered owner and were invited on to the premises.

They spoke to the defendant who confirmed he was the owner and driver of the vehicle.

Branagan stated that he had returned home at 8.30pm and had consumed no alcohol since he arrived.

He later changed this claiming he had two beers; a preliminary breath test was conducted and resulted in a fail.

The defendant was arrested and conveyed to Lurgan Custody Suite.

Whilst here, Branagan claimed that he had also drunk a quantity of Morgan’s spiced rum.

Court heard the member of the public witnessed the van being driven erratically and hitting a number of kerbs.

During interview, the defendant could not explain why his vehicle had been seen on the road at 9.20pm but stated that no one else could have been driving it.

A second breathalyser test in custody gave a reading of 75mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath.

District Judge Stephen Keown commented: “He is lucky he didn’t kill someone.”

Defence solicitor Suin Downey stated: “This man is a joiner, he has been employed to work on the new Ulster University building. This ban will impact him greatly.

“He is deeply embarrassed by the incident and instructs that he simply panicked.”

Ms Downey asked that any ban was kept to a minimum given the defendant’s lack of a record.

District Judge Keown stated: “Mr Branagan, you were lucky you didn’t kill yourself or someone else with this driving.”

The defendant was disqualified from driving for 16 months and ordered to pay a fine of £500, along with the offender’s levy of £15, within 16 weeks.

Branagan was certified for the drink driving course which would see his ban reduced by as much as one quarter if completed.

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