A drunk driver who hit a parked vehicle in Dromore and left the scene was given a suspended prison sentence last Thursday at Banbridge Magistrates Court.
Roger Stewart (38), Woodvale, Dromara, admitted a number of motoring offences which happened on October 31 last year.
For driving with excess alcohol the defendant was sentenced to five months in prison, suspended for three years, fined £250 and banned for three years and ordered to pay a £15 offender’s levy.
He was fined £100 for not having insurance and £50 fines and concurrent three year bans were imposed for failing to stop, failing to remain and taking a vehicle without the consent of the owner.
The court heard that police received a call from a member of the public whose vehicle, parked in Mount Street, Dromore, had been struck by a car which had left he scene.
They spoke to the defendant’s partner who had been a passenger in the vehicle.
She said he was intoxicated and she tried to stop him from driving but he took the keys against her will.
An evidential breath test on the defendant gave a reading of 55.
When interviewed Stewart made a full admission to all the offences.
He said that he needed to seek help for his alcoholism.
A barrister representing the defendant said Stewart recognised his actions on this occasion were reckless and irresponsible and had endangered his partner and other road users.
He added that it could be seen in the pre-sentence report this had brought home to him his troubles with alcohol.
He was now attending AA meetings on a weekly basis.
The lawyer said it had been eight years from Stewart’s last offence.
He had a good job with a local engineering firm and was the sole breadwinner in the family.
He said that the court might consider the custody threshold had been crossed but asked the judge to take into account his co-operation with the police, his early plea, holding down a job and addressing his alcohol problems.
District Judge, Mr Paul Copeland, told Stewart he had taken an ‘appalling risk’ with his family in this vehicle.
But he was satisfied the defendant had shown remorse and the events had brought home to him the consequences of his persistent alcohol abuse.
Judge Copeland said it did cross the custody threshold but he would suspend the sentence.