A woman convicted of her third driving while disqualified offence was told she had ‘missed prison by a whisker’ when she was given 220 hours community service last Thursday at Banbridge Magistrates Court.
Sharon Hackett (43), O’Hagan’s Terrace, Hilltown, was also banned from driving for five years.
The court heard that on August 4 last year at around tea-time she was seen by an off duty police officer putting items into a car at Tescos at Bridgewater Park Banbridge before driving off.
She was a disqualified driver and when interviewed she made a full and frank admission.
The case had been adjourned from a previous court so that a pre-sentence report could be obtained.
A barrister representing Hackett said she found herself in a serious position given her record.
He added that she had a very difficult background and her record had escalated over the last number of years due to her alcohol problem.
The lawyer said that she would consent to community service which could be of enormous benefit to her.
District Judge, Mr Peter King, said that given her record an exceptional step would be not to send her to prison immediately.
Hackett’s barrister said she had had sold the car and had no access to a vehicle so there was no temptation for her to drive.
He added that she had reduced her alcohol intake and was willing to accept an enhanced combination order.
Judge King said that Hackett had 20 previous convictions and this was her third conviction for driving while disqualified.
He added that he was concerned that any sentence which left her in the community would be a risk to the community.
Judge King said he was considering a six month sentence but would instead impose 220 hours community service and a five year ban.
Judge King told Hackett: “You have missed prison by a whisker and this is your last chance.”