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Man stole Land Rover from Tandragee car sales before crashing into field

'So he's just out of prison, he's drunk, he steals a Land Rover, crashes it and all of that is in breach of a court order'

A man who stole a Land Rover from a Tandragee forecourt before crashing it into a field has been sentenced to seven months in prison.

Michael John Maughan (47), of Newry, was also disqualified from driving for two years and ordered to pay £500 in compensation to fix a fence he damaged during the incident, at a hearing before Armagh Magistrates Court, sitting at Newry Courthouse on Tuesday.

Appearing via videolink from Maghaberry Prison, he was charged with aggravated taking and causing damage to a vehicle, driving with excess alcohol in breath, criminal damage, driving while disqualified, using a vehicle without insurance and disorderly behaviour.

The court heard on Tuesday, February 27, this year at around 4:10pm, police were called to Herrons Country Fried Chicken in Tandragee following a report of a suspicious man refusing to leave the store.

Police arrived shortly after and were told by an employee that the man had stolen a Land Rover from the forecourt of a nearby car sales business. This was witnessed by two other members of the public.

Police spoke with the witnesses and with the owner of the car sales who all recorded statements. The owner said a man had approached him earlier and asked to purchase the vehicle, which was not for sale.

A short time later, it was reported to police that a Land Rover had crashed into a field near Tandragee. A constable observed the vehicle appeared to be stuck in the mud as the front wheels were spinning but the vehicle wasn’t moving.

The man, who was identified as the defendant, was found in the driver’s seat.

A preliminary breath test was carried out which resulted in a fail and a computer search confirmed he was driving whilst disqualified.

A reading was then taken which returned a result of 57 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit in Northern Ireland is 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath.

It was noted that the defendant had only recently been released from custody.

A defence solicitor appearing in court conceded that, “very little positive can be said in terms of his behaviour upon release from custody”.

However, he added that the defendant’s intentions upon his release were to return to his ill father in England.

District Judge Anne Marshall said, “So he’s just out of prison, he’s drunk, he steals a Land Rover, crashes it and all of that is in breach of a court order.”

The defence replied, “It’s appalling, he knows the position he’s in. He’s been in custody since this date in February.”

He added that the defendant’s record in Northern Ireland is “not the worst”.

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