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Man was involved in hit and run after stealing van from outside community hall

His defence said: 'Basically all of his offences, the pattern relates to his alcohol problems but he has now committed to sobriety'

police prison

A man who was involved in a hit and run in a van which he had stolen from outside a community hall has been sentenced to four months in prison.

The 32-year-old’s solicitor told court that the offences committed by the defendant arose out of his “long-standing problems with alcohol”.

Eamon Joseph McKernan, of Victoria Street in Belfast, pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking causing damage, possession of Class B, dangerous driving, no insurance, no licence and failing to provide a specimen of breath at Craigavon Magistrates’, where he appeared via videolink from Maghaberry.

District Judge Steven Keown stated that the case would be dealt with that day as the defendant would be remaining in custody serving a sentence until November.

Prosecution outlined that on April 17, at 7.40pm, police received a report of a hit and run on the Maghery Road in Portadown.

The owner of a Vauxhall Zafira said their vehicle had been hit by a white Citroen Berlingo van, which had then driven off without stopping.

Checks revealed a similar van had been stolen at 7pm. The person who reported the theft claimed it had been taken by the defendant.

Police located the vehicle abandoned in the car park of Tesco on Highfield Road, Craigavon, and later arrested McKernan.

It was noted by officers that the defendant was unsteady on his feet and smelled of intoxicating liquor, and whilst in custody he refused to submit to a breath test.

During a search, 3.5 grams of cannabis was found in McKernan’s shoe.

An interview could not be carried out until the next day, when the defendant was fit to do so, and during this he made no comment.

Defence solicitor Gerard Maguire stated: “The probation report from his last case is very helpful. This offence arose out of his problems with alcohol.

“He accepts he has long-standing problems with alcohol and linked mental health issues. He opportunistically took the van from outside a community hall. The keys were in the ignition.”

He continued: “Basically all of his offences, the pattern relates to his alcohol problems but he has now committed to sobriety.

“He is very remorseful for his behaviour. Unfortunately, the day after he was sentenced for the last offence his father died and he was not granted compassionate leave to attend the funeral.”

McKernan was sentenced to four months in prison and was disqualified from driving for three years.

In addition, an immediate warrant was also made for a fine of £400.

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