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Woman caught drink driving twice in two weeks gets community service after year without offending

The district judge, who had deferred the matter, said defendant 'has kept her end of the bargain and I will keep my end of the bargain'

Newry Courthouse

A Newry woman who was caught drink driving twice in two weeks has been sentenced to probation and community service after committing no more offences in over a year of deferment.

The district judge told the 54-year-old: “The last thing I want to do, sitting here, is remove someone’s liberty and lock them up, especially when there are underlying issues such as alcohol or drug afflictions.”

Ann Marie Clements, of Daisy Hill Gardens, appeared for sentencing on a litany of driving offences at Newry Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, via videolink from her solicitor’s office.

She was charged with two counts of driving with excess alcohol, three counts of driving whilst disqualified, three counts of using a vehicle without insurance, failing to report an accident and failing to provide a sample of breath.

It was heard that these offences referred to three separate incidents which occurred all within the month of June, last year.

Prosecution outlined that on June 10, at around 8pm, police were called after damage was reported to three vehicles at Daisy Hill Gardens in Newry.

Officers arrived to observe the defendant driving a Peugeot 208 which was said to have caused the damage to the other vehicles.

Checks by police showed that Clements was a disqualified driver and that there was no active insurance policy on her car.

They spoke to the defendant and noted that she smelled strongly of intoxicating liquor.

A preliminary breath test was conducted which resulted in a fail. Clements was subsequently arrested and conveyed to Banbridge Custody Suite.

Whilst there, an evidential sample was collected which gave a reading of 65mg of alcohol in 100 ml of breath.

A previous court sitting heard that during interview, the defendant admitted to consuming two and a half bottles of wine before moving her car.

It was then outlined on June 14, the defendant was once more caught driving whilst disqualified and without insurance on the Belfast Road in Newry, making admissions at the scene.

Then on June 26, at around 5.50pm, police received a report of a suspected drink driver in a Peugeot 208 on Kiln Street in Newry.

Officers arrived to find the car parked halfway on the kerb with the keys in the ignition and the defendant standing nearby.

Police spoke to Clements who admitted to being the owner and driver of the vehicle.

Checks on police systems showed that the defendant was a disqualified driver and that the car was not insured.

Officers, after noting that the defendant’s speech was slurred, opted to conduct a preliminary breath test. Clements failed on four occasions to comply.

She was subsequently arrested and taken to Banbridge Custody Suite, where a reading of 75mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath was obtained.

Defence barrister Kevin Magill stated: “I am hoping to keep this relatively short. In essence this is a lady who was unknown to the court for many years but in the last number of years has gone through a difficult period.

“There were grave concerns from your worship regarding her ability to stay away from cars and deal with his alcohol issues but it would appear during the prolonged deferment period she has managed to do that.”

He added that probation had recommended the imposition of an enhanced combination order, with reduced community service due to Clements’ health issues.

District Judge Eamonn King stated: “Put in a nutshell, since I deferred this matter on October 9 there has been no further offending.

“The last thing I want to do, sitting here, is remove someone’s liberty and lock them up, especially when there are underlying issues such as alcohol or drug afflictions.”

He added: “Ms Clements has kept her end of the bargain and I will keep my end of the bargain.”

The defendant, who had been handed a 10 year disqualification on the last appearance, was sentenced to complete an enhanced combination order consisting of 40 hours community service and 18 months probation.

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