A 72-year-old Waringstown man who was convicted of his fifth drink driving offence last Wednesday at Craigavon Magistrates Court was given suspended prison sentences.
And he was told it could have been an immediate prison term only for the detrimental affect it would have on his wife as she was in poor health and he was her prime carer.
William John Cunningham, Clare Road, Waringstown, pleaded guilty at a previous court to a number of offences.
Sentencing was adjourned until last week so that a pre-sentence report could be obtained.
He was sentenced to six months in prison and banned for five years for driving while unfit and given a four month term and five year ban for not having insurance.
Three month prison sentences, along with 12 month bans, were imposed for failing to stop, failing to remain and failing to report an accident.
He was fined £200 and disqualified for 12 months for driving without due care and attention and fined £100 with a six month ban for not having a licence.
All the prison sentences are to run concurrently and were suspended for two years. The driving bans are also concurrent.
The court heard that around 9pm on October 2 last year a hit and run accident happened at the Wine Company in Waringstown.
A witness identified the defendant as the driver and believed he was under the influence of alcohol.
Two witnesses in the car park said that their vehicles had been hit. The person responsible was known to them.
When police spoke to Cunningham he said he had not left his house all day and denied driving. He appeared to be intoxicated and highly animated.
He did not have a licence or insurance and a breath test gave a reading of 64.
CCTV footage showed the defendant at the location at the relevant time.
When he was later interviewed he made a no comment interview and failed to give any account of his movements on the day in question.
Deputy District Judge Brian Archer said that the defendant was looking at custody.
A barrister representing Cunningham said it was his fifth conviction for drink driving.
He added that his client had an issue with alcohol and driving with alcohol but he had no convictions since 2005.
The lawyer explained that his client had not applied for his licence since he came out of his last disqualification and had taken a chance on this occasion.
He said that because of his age Cunningham was not suitable for community service or probation.
Judge Archer said the offences crossed the custody threshold.
The barrister asked that something be left hanging over the head of the defendant because immediate custody would have a detrimental effect on Cunningham’s wife. She was 73, in poor health and he was her prime carer.
Judge Archer told Cunningham he should be deeply ashamed of what he had done and he had an ‘appalling driving record’.
He added that on this occasion the defendant had damaged two vehicles and decided to drive on.
Judge Archer said he would take into account Cunningham’s early plea but told him if it was not for his wife’s poor health he would ‘have sent you to prison today’.