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Drunk welder crashed van and made a bolt for it before police caught him

He had been staying in a B&B that his employer had paid for before taking the "very foolish" decision to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car

Armagh Courthouse

A County Clare man working in Northern Ireland hit the fence of a residential property in Middletown and abandoned the vehicle in the road after driving whilst intoxicated, a court has heard.

Mateusz Tkocz appeared before Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry Courthouse on Tuesday, via videolink from Omagh custody.

The 31-year-old was charged with driving with excess alcohol in breath, failing to stop at an accident, failing to remain at an accident, failing to report an accident and obstruction of a road.

At the outset of the hearing, the defendant was asked if he understood the charges. He replied “I understand”, with the assistance of a Polish interpreter.

A police constable then told the court that he was able to connect the accused to the charges, to which the defendant had entered guilty pleas.

The court heard that on January 29 of this year, police received a report of a damage-only collision on the Coolkill Road, Middletown.

The reporting person stated that a white van had struck a fence at the front of a residential property and did not stop.

Police later found the same van abandoned in the middle of the road with damage to its front. A short distance away, they located the defendant, who appeared intoxicated.

A preliminary breath test was conducted, which resulted in a fail, and the defendant was arrested and taken to custody.

A defence solicitor told the court that his client is ordinarily a resident of County Clare in the Republic of Ireland, but had been working in this jurisdiction for a short time.

Employed as a welder, he had been staying in a B&B that his employer had paid for, before taking the “very foolish” decision to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car.

The solicitor explained that the defendant, who has no prior record and had made full admissions, has been in Ireland for “some time” and been in employment throughout.

District Judge Anne Marshall fined the defendant £200 for the excess alcohol charge, alongside the £15 offender levy.

He was given additional £50 fines for each of the further four charges, making a total fine of £415.

He was also disqualified from driving for a period of one year.

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