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Wheelchair-bound drink driver jailed and refused bail pending appeal against sentence

He was reported after he appeared intoxicated leaving Richhill pub and getting into car

Drink-driving Armagh courthouse

A Mountnorris man who was caught drink driving whilst disqualified has been sentenced to four months in prison.

A judge said that this was despite the 41-year-old’s “health difficulties”, with court being informed the defendant was wheelchair-bound, due to a serious assault in 2014.

Stuart Robert Neville, 41, of Cusher Green, pleaded guilty to driving whilst disqualified, using a vehicle without insurance, driving with excess alcohol and no licence at the city’s Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

His co-defendant, John Ross Ewing, 38, of Ballynahone Close, Armagh, also pleaded guilty to permitting no insurance.

Court heard that on July 29,  at around 7pm, police received reports of Neville driving a Kia vehicle on Irish Street, Richhill.

Descriptions of the car matched that of a vehicle owned by Ewing’s grandmother.

Neville had been reported as he appeared intoxicated as he left Ye Olde House Bar in Richhill before entering the car.

At 7.45pm police arrived at the registered owner’s address and spoke to both defendants.

Neville was arrested and taken to Lurgan Custody Suite where a breathalyser gave a reading of 71mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath.

He was interviewed three days later, and during this denied driving the car.

When shown CCTV, Neville accepted that he was seen entering the vehicle but denied driving.

Ewing, during interview, claimed that he was the front seat passenger in the car.

Neville also entered pleas to resisting police, disorderly behaviour and assault on police relating to another incident.

Court heard that on May 13, police responded to a disturbance at the defendant’s home.

Officers told Neville that they required him to leave the property but he refused.

Police tried to escort the defendant but he resisted and had to be restrained before being carried out.

Neville then began shouting at officers stating that he was going to have their jobs.

He was informed by police that he needed to be quiet as this was a public place but he refused.

The defendant continued to be abusive in the police vehicle and whilst in custody grabbed the arms of an officer pulling them behind his handcuffs.

Defence barrister, for Neville, Kevin O’Hare stated: “A medical report that has been provided shows that Mr Neville is awaiting a hip replacement and has been for some time which has left him wheelchair-bound.

“This stems from a serious assault of which he was the victim back in 2014.”

He continued: “He does not think that this gives him carte blanch permission to do what he wants.

“He has remorse for the way he behaved and knows he should not be behind the wheel of a car.”

Ewing’s barrister, Scott McWhinney, stated: “This was a guilty plea at the first opportunity. Mr Ewing appears before the court with not the worst record you will ever see.”

Court heard that this defendant’s last road traffic offence was around 20 years ago.

Mr McWhinney added: “The best that can be said is that Mr Ewing was not behind the wheel of the vehicle himself.”

District Judge Alan White stated: “Mr Ewing, it has been 20 years since your last road offence and in this case, it was only permitting.”

Ewing was handed six penalty points and ordered to pay a fine of £200, along with the offender’s levy of £15, within 16 weeks.

District Judge White then turned to Neville and said: “This is a serious matter – the combination of excess alcohol and driving whilst disqualified along with the breach of a suspended sentence from the Crown.

“You have previous convictions for driving whilst disqualified and excess alcohol also.”

He told the defendant: “Despite your health difficulties there is only one possible sentence and that is one of immediate custody.”

Neville was sentenced to four months in prison and handed a five-year disqualification.

Mr O’Hare made the court aware that his client wished to appeal the decision.

District Judge White denied bail pending this appeal and ordered that the decision on the imposition of Neville’s suspended sentence would be decided by the Crown Court.

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