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Man who lied about having Covid after drink drive arrest jailed for four months

He was was found by officers in the driver's seat of a car stuck on a football pitch with vomit on the ground next to him

Covid police

A man who lied about having Covid-19 to police officers following his arrest for drink driving has been sentenced to four months in prison.

Court heard that the 32-year-old was found by officers in the driver’s seat of a car stuck on a football pitch with vomit on the ground next to him.

Curtis Thomas Tanner, whose address is given as HMP Maghaberry, pleaded guilty to a total of seven charges at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

Appearing via videolink from the prison, the defendant was sentenced on driving whilst disqualified, driving with excess alcohol, using a vehicle without insurance, failing to stop, failing to remain, failing to report an accident and assault on police.

Prosecution outlined that on October 21, at 7pm, police received a report of a suspected drink driver in the vicinity of Bannfoot Road, Craigavon.

The reporting person claimed the driver of a Renault Megane had reversed into a concrete fence post and then proceeded to drive on to a football pitch, where the vehicle got stuck.

When officers arrived, the driver, who was identified as the defendant, was still in the car and had vomited onto the football pitch.

Following a failed preliminary breath test, Tanner was arrested with subsequent checks revealing he was a disqualified driver and there was no active insurance policy on the vehicle.

Whilst in the police vehicle en route to Lurgan police station, the defendant claimed to have had a positive test for Covid-19.

This meant that he had to be transferred to another police station. Whilst this was being arranged Tanner made attempts to exit the police vehicle and struck an officer.

Whilst at Musgrave Custody Suite, an evidential breath sample was obtained which gave a reading of 69mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath.

It was subsequently discovered that Tanner had not tested positive for the virus and made no comment during interview.

Deputy District Judge Gerard Trainor commented that this was an “unusual case” which he was surprised to see in the Magistrates’ Court.

Defence barrister Martin Morgan stated: “He is extremely fortunate that the PPS took the view to take it into the petty session.”

He said that his client had a “very obvious alcohol problem” and referred the deputy district judge to his written submissions.

Deputy District Judge Trainor stated: “His record is appalling in all levels. The court had been extremely lenient in offering him a probation order. The only mitigating factor is his guilty plea.

“He has faced disqualifications for periods up to 15 years in the past. It is a rather academic situation in that case.”

Tanner was sentenced to four months in prison and was disqualified from driving for 10 years.

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