Man drove to bottle bank while four times over limit

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A Ballygally man was more than four times over the drink limit when stopped by police as he drove to a bottle bank.

Dermot Patrick Walsh (48), of Cairnlea, had the offence detected on the Coast Road on December 7, Ballymena Magistrates Court was told on Thursday.

He had a reading of 149 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath - the legal limit is 35mcgs.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of driving with excess alcohol in breath.

A prosecutor said police on mobile patrol were behind Walsh and they noticed the Jaguar vehicle driving slightly onto the wrong side of the road before it made a sharp turn into a Spar shop.

He was slurring his words and told police officers he wished to apologise.

Defence solicitor David McIlrath said his client, a married father of three children, had a completely clear record throughout his 31 years of driving and had no points on his licence. He said his client had worked all his life and a “glowing reference” was handed in to court.

Mr McIlrath said although it was a high reading the “family man” had been on an “isolated country road.”

He added: “For some unknown reason he had driven half a mile from where he was staying to a bottle bank”.

The solicitor said Walsh was alone in the car; there had been no accident and he fully co-operated with police.

Mr McIlrath asked the court to treat the case as a “one-off” and he said it was very unlikely his client would be before a judge again.

He said Walsh’s employers are going to make provision for him regarding his driving ban.

Deputy District Judge Liam McStay said the aggravating feature in the case was the very high reading which could not be ignored but he noted the clear record and guilty plea and said Walsh was “clearly highly regarded” by his work colleagues.

Banning him from driving for a year he said he would mark the high reading with an increased financial penalty as he fined Walsh £400.