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Drink driver enjoying re-opening of beer gardens stopped and blocked in by member of public

A Newry man who drove whilst over twice the legal limit after being unable to get a taxi following the re-opening of beer gardens has been handed a 12 month ban.

The 27-year-old’s solicitor told court that he client was “very embarrassed and extremely remorseful”.

Sean Collins, of Carrogs Road, had pleas entered on his behalf to driving with excess alcohol, using a vehicle without insurance, no L plates, being an unaccompanied L driver, failing to stop, failing to remain and failing to report at the city’s Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

Prosecution outlined that on May 1, at 12.3oam, police received reports of a suspected drink driver in a Renault Megane travelling in the direction of Spelga Dam.

A short time later, officers observed that the vehicle in question had been stopped by a member of the public on the Bryansford Road.

The Megane had been blocked in place by the BMW, with the owner pointing to the defendant as the owner of the offending vehicle.

He told police that the wing mirror of his car had been struck by Collins as he was travelling on the Rathfriland Road, and he had then followed the defendant as he failed to stop.

As police spoke to Collins, it was noted that his speech was slurred and he was unsteady on his feet.

The defendant was arrested and taken to Banbridge Custody Suite, where an evidential breath test was conducted giving a reading of 86mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath – over twice the legal limit.

Defence solicitor Tara Walsh commented that the district judge would note the date as the day on which beer gardens re-opened following the relaxation of restrictions.

She stated: “My client attended a local pub, however, he had been unable to obtain a taxi and made the foolish decision to drive home.

“He accepts that he should not have been driving….he is very embarrassed and extremely remorseful. This is a 27-year-old who has never been before the court and appears without any record.”

District Judge Eamonn King disqualified Collins from driving for a period of 12 months and ordered that he pay a fine of £600, along with the offender’s levy of £15, within 12 weeks.

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