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Man caught over the limit just three months after being banned from driving for similar offence

The distric judge told him: 'I believe this crosses the custody threshold'

A Portadown man who was caught drink driving just three months after being disqualified for exactly the same offence has been handed a suspended sentence.

The district judge told the 36-year-old: “It was your decision to get into a car and drive with alcohol in your system shortly after a disqualification. I believe this crosses the custody threshold.”

Mark Fleming, of Millington Park, appeared for sentencing on driving with excess alcohol, driving whilst disqualified and using a vehicle without insurance at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

Prosecution outlined that on June 9, at around 11.30pm, police on Hamilton Street in Lurgan observed three individuals get out of a Seat Ibiza.

Officers believed that the driver of the car looked intoxicated and as they approached they noted he was unsteady on his feet and his breath smelled strongly of alcohol.

A preliminary breath test was carried out which resulted in a fail. The driver, who identified himself as the defendant, informed the police that he was a disqualified driver.

Whilst in custody, an evidential sample of breath was obtained which gave a reading of 54mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath.

Checks with Fleming’s insurance company showed that due to him not declaring his disqualification his policy was not valid at the time.

During interview, the defendant made admissions to all of the offences before the court.

Defence barrister Aaron Thompson stated: “It is not lost on the defendant just how serious driving whilst disqualified is. You will note that for his age he has a very limited record.

“His mother died about a year ago which led him to start drinking up to seven days a week which led to the breakdown of his marriage. At the time of this offence his wife had left him.”

He added: “It was her car he was detected in. The distance between them was so great he had not informed her he had been disqualified.”

Deputy District Judge Gerard Trainor said: “Mr Fleming, within three months of a previous disqualification, you committed a repeat no insurance offence and a repeat drink driving offence.

“It was your decision to get into a car and drive with alcohol in your system shortly after a disqualification. I believe this crosses the custody threshold.”

The defendant was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for two years and was disqualified from driving for three years.

In addition, he was ordered to pay a fine of £700, along with the offender’s levy of £15, within 12 weeks.

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