A Craigavon man who was caught drink driving has been warned by a district judge that if he breaches probation he will be sent to prison for as long as possible.
Court heard the 24-year-old was detected at a drive-thru in a car he did not have permission to be driving and without a licence.
Dale Ruddell, of Ardowen, appeared for sentencing on driving with excess alcohol, taking a vehicle without authority, no driving licence, disorderly behaviour and using a vehicle without insurance at Craigavon Magistrates’ on Wednesday.
Prosecution outlined that on May 19, police received a report of a suspected drink driver at the drive-thru of McDonald’s on Meadow Lane, Portadown.
Officers arrived and found the defendant in the front seat of a Seat Ibiza, which had been described to them, parked nearby with the ignition running.
It was noted that Ruddell smelled of alcohol and his speech was slurred, and a preliminary breath test gave a fail reading.
Police established that the vehicle had been taken without the owner’s permission and the defendant informed them that he did not hold a licence.
As officers arrested Ruddell he began to shout and swear telling police to “f*** off” on numerous occasions.
The defendant was taken into custody where an evidential sample of breath was obtained giving a reading of 85mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath – over twice the limit.
During interview, Ruddell admitted to taking the car without permission but made no comment after that.
Defence barrister David McKeown stated: “It is clear from the presentence report he is suitable for community service or a probation order.
“A probation order may help him deal with his issues. The concerning thing is he feels he does not have a problem with alcohol but his record shows that clearly he does.”
District Judge Mark McGarrity said: “Because this is in breach of a suspended sentence, the court could start with a sentence of three months in custody and no appeal court would overturn that.
“But because of the fact you have served a lengthy sentence recently and you are someone who has never had the benefit of a probation order, I am going to sentence you in a different way.”
He continued: “However, I must warn you that if you breach it, like you have done with community service in the past, I will be sending you to prison for as long as I can.”
Ruddell was sentenced to 18 months probation and was disqualified from driving for three years.
In addition, the defendant was also ordered to pay a fine of £300, along with the offender’s levy of £15, within 20 weeks.