FORMER Banbridge Sinn Fein Councillor Dessie Ward has been convicted of drink driving and lost his licence.
The 33-year-old from Edenderry Park in the town, appeared in the dock of the local Magistrates Court last Thursday when he entered a guilty plea to the charge of driving with excess alcohol.
Thursday’s Court heard how at 1.40am on 2 April, police in Banbridge received a radio transmission from the communications team of a suspected drink driver in a Volkswagen Passat.
Police approached the car at the Yellow Hill roundabout and noted it was using its brake lights at inappropriate moments and was veering across the white line.
When officers spoke to Ward they noted his eyes were red and his breath smelled of intoxicating liquor.
A roadside test revealed 86mgs of alcohol in 100ml of breath - meaning he was twice the legal limit.
Barrister Mr Justin Byrne agreed this was a high reading, and explained that his client had been at an “impromptu event” and fell in with company.
He explained Ward was a father of two young children and has been driving for five years with no other record.
“He works in a call centre in Newry and has regular contact with his children and provides for them.
“Any disqualification will cause him great difficulty in getting to work.”
District Judge Mr Paul Copeland said the court could not overlook the significantly high reading which indicated a high level of intoxication.
Ward was fined £300 and disqualified for 16 months with an additional offender’s levy of £15.
The court agreed that if he successfully completed the drink drive offender’s course, Ward’s period of disqualification may be reduced by 25%.
He was warned that the default period for no payment of fines was 14 days in prison.
Mr Ward caused shock waves in Spring 2010 when he resigned from Sinn Fein saying that he would best represent the people of Banbridge as an Independent Councillor. However, he failed to get re-elected the following year.