An illiterate Bulgarian national who was found with a fraudulent licence was taken advantage of according to his barrister.
The district judge described the 35-year-old’s explanation as “not only unreasonable but unconvincing”.
Ognyan Gospodinov Ognyanov, of McCrory Street, Armagh, pleaded guilty to using a vehicle without insurance, no driving licence and possessing a false identity document at the city’s Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.
Prosecution outlined that on June 15, at around 10pm, police observed a Citroen C5 on the footpath of Railway Street in Armagh.
Checks of the vehicle showed that it did not have a valid policy of insurance.
Officers spoke to the defendant, who was the driver of the car, asking for his licence and insurance details.
Ognyanov handed police a Bulgarian licence, which upon inspection was found to be fraudulent.
During interview, the defendant claimed that he could not read or write in Bulgarian or English.
He said his insurance had been cancelled four days prior but at the time he did not know that.
Ognyanov told police that he had purchased the fraudulent licence for €700.
Defence barrister Seamus Lannon stated: “This is a married man with two children. He works in a factory manufacturing concrete products.
“He is illiterate and ultimately someone took advantage of him as he believed he was doing something which would get him on the road legitimately.”
District Judge Paul Copeland commented: “This all seems a bit vague and mystical.”
Mr Lannon said: “I understand that and he understands that now, with regards the insurance he got an email but he can’t read so had to wait for someone else to read it for him.
“He does have a record but has aspirations to be on the road legitimately. Given the peculiar circumstances of this case I would ask the court to stay its hand and give this man a chance to succeed.”
District Judge Copeland stated: “The possession of a false identity document, particularly a licence, is a serious offence and your excuse is not only unreasonable but unconvincing.
“This is only made worse by the fact that you were uninsured but I am prepared to stay my hand.”
Ognyanov was sentenced to five months in prison suspended for two years.
In addition, the defendant was disqualified from driving for 18 months and ordered to pay a fine of £750, along with the offender’s levy of £15, within 26 weeks.