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Keady man who crashed car after drinking for several days ‘lucky to be alive’

He agreed to a preliminary breath test, which provided a reading that stated 'exceed value'. On recall, the reading stated '200'.

A Keady man who was over five times the drink-drive limit when he crashed someone else’s vehicle has been fined £400 and disqualified from driving for 18 months.

Caolan Cassidy, of Railway Crescent, appeared before Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry Courthouse on Tuesday, via videolink from Maghaberry.

The 23-year-old was charged with a litany of motoring offences, including; driving when unfit through drink or drugs and aggravated taking and causing damage to a vehicle.

The court heard that on April 23, police were tasked to a one-vehicle collision on the Tassagh Road, Keady, where a black Toyota, which appeared to have significant damage, was blocking the road.

A witness at the scene stated that the driver, who was a male, appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and had a cut to the left side of his head. They added that the man was picked up by a silver Audi a short time later.

Police later received a report from a woman, who stated that her ex-partner – Cassidy – had arrived at her address saying that he had been involved in a collision and had been driving the vehicle.

Police attended the address and spoke with the defendant, who said that he had taken the vehicle without consent and was involved in the collision. He also stated that he was intoxicated and had been drinking for several days. He agreed to a preliminary breath test, which provided a reading that stated ‘exceed value’. On recall, the reading stated ‘200’.

The legal alcohol limit for drivers in Northern Ireland is 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.

The defendant was subsequently arrested. He was interviewed in Banbridge custody where he made full admissions to the offences.

A defence solicitor told the court that her client, who had spent around five weeks on remand, had originally been granted bail but no suitable address could be found as he was “effectively homeless”.

She added that the defendant “suffers significantly” from mental health issues and alcohol abuse issues.

“This is the first time that he has spent any time in custody… and has serious time to reflect on this incident,” she said.

The court was told that the defendant had taken the vehicle and had driven approximately one-and-a-half miles to his friend’s house.

The defence solicitor added: “He was lucky that there was no other vehicle involved in the incident… by his own admissions he admitted that he himself was lucky to be alive.”

District Judge Francis Rafferty disqualified Cassidy from driving for a period of 18 months and imposed a fine of £400, alongside the £15 offender levy, granting the defendant 26 weeks to pay.

Owing to the defendant being homeless, District Judge Rafferty said: “I don’t want to leave a significant amount hanging over him.”

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