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Armagh woman driving under influence forced police to swerve onto hard shoulder

Police stopped the vehicle and on speaking to the driver, the defendant, they noticed a 'strong smell of cannabis'

An Armagh woman who forced police to swerve onto the hard shoulder when she was driving under the influence has been jailed for two months.

Jennifer Bell, of Culdee Crescent, was also banned from driving for 18 months when she appeared before Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

The 39-year-old, who appeared via videolink from Hydebank, was charged with possession of a Class B drug, three counts of possessing a Class C drug, failing to provide a specimen and dangerous driving.

At the outset of the hearing, her defence barrister Peter Canavan informed the court she had been in custody on another matter since January 9.

The court was then told that on July 1 last year, police had received a report relating to a male and female who were in a Centra in Portadown.

The female appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and had driven off in a Jetta.

While responding to the call on the Dobbin Road, police observed the vehicle travelling in the direction of Armagh.

It was driving on the wrong side of the road, causing police to swerve to avoid a head-on collision.

Police stopped the vehicle and on speaking to the driver, the defendant, they noticed a “strong smell of cannabis”.

Ms Bell had slurred speech, her pupils were dilated and she had a relaxed and drowsy demeanour.

The vehicle was searched and herbal cannabis was found, alongside two medication bottles with her name on them.

Each bottle contained various types of tablets beyond the quantity listed on the bottle and police suspected these to be non-prescribed drugs.

She was then arrested and taken to Lurgan custody, where she refused to provide a sample of blood for analysis.

Speaking in her defence, Mr Canavan BL described the defendant as “quite a vulnerable lady”, referring to past diagnosis and the fact she had been in a mental health facility before custody.

However, he added she was working through these issues, saying, “It’s a long way ahead for Ms Bell but she’s certainly begun her journey on the road and I’d ask Your Worship to credit that.”

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