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Man banned from driving but avoids jail after seventh no insurance offence

Defendant 'is minimising his responsibility, blaming everybody but himself'

A Co Tyrone man has been handed a prison term and disqualified from driving for one year after a number of motoring offences.

Dara Padraigh Smyth, of Maloon Park, Cookstown, appeared on Tuesday at Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry.

He pleaded guilty to three charges of  driving without insurance, three of having no driving licence and a single charge of a false declaration to obtain a certificate of insurance.

The court was told that on January 13 this year police were travelling along the Battleford Road in Armagh when they saw the 39-year-old defendant driving a dark-coloured Audi.

A check on police systems showed he was not entitled to drive as he had been previously disqualified. Police were unable to locate the vehicle after the initial sighting.

On January 21, police were at the Spar in Bridge Street, Portadown, when they saw the defendant getting into the driver’s seat of the Audi and driving out of the forecourt. A check on police systems showed he didn’t hold a driving licence following a period of disqualification.

A few days later, police were on mobile patrol on the Cathedral Road, Armagh, when they saw the defendant again.

They asked to see his driving licence but he said he was waiting for it to be returned from the DVA due to a previous disqualification.

After further enquiries, it emerged he did not hold a current, full driving licence and that an application for reinstatement had been returned in December 2021.

Enquiries were also made with the defendant’s insurance company who said they were not aware of any previous driving convictions or periods of disqualification.

They said they would not have issued the insurance policy if they had known.

A defence solicitor said his client, a personal trainer, accepted all responsibility and apologised to the court.

A pre-sentence report indicated he was at  a medium risk of reoffending.

District Judge Anne Marshall said that having seen his previous record and a pre-sentence report, the defendant “has very limited insight and is minimising his responsibility, blaming everybody but himself”.

She added: “The person who is to blame for these fifth, sixth and seventh no insurance is Mr Smyth. He has already been to court on a number of occasions.

“This is a serious case which is why I asked for a pre-sentence report. I have three different dates where he is driving without insurance and he has four previous for the same offence.

“The only question I have today is whether he has reached the immediate custody threshold.”

For each of the no insurance charges, she sentenced him to three months in prison, suspended for 18 months.

He was also disqualified from driving for one year and given a £15 offender levy.

For the three no driving licence charges, he was fined £50 each, and for falsely obtaining insurance three months in jail, suspended for 18 months.

“He should be in absolutely no doubt that if he drives again – other than in due course when he applies to get his licence back and goes through all the proper channels – with any driving offences it will be immediate custody,” added Judge Marshall.

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