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Man who claimed he drank bottle of gin at 3am waiting for assistance escapes driving ban

Police night

A man who dealt with a flat tyre by drinking a bottle of gin whilst awaiting assistance has escaped disqualification.

The judge told the 33-year-old: “There are a lot of question marks over what you were doing on that night, I don’t believe any of it.”

Jonathan James Lyttle, of Fort Road in Bangor, pleaded guilty to being in charge with excess alcohol at Banbridge Magistrates’ – sitting at Newry – on Thursday.

A prosecution solicitor told the court that on February 16, at around 3am, police observed a Peugeot Partner van in the washing bay of a petrol station on the Dromore Road in Banbridge.

Officers spoke to the defendant, who was in the passenger seat of the vehicle, noting that that he appeared intoxicated.

Lyttle was unsteady on his feet, had glazed eyes and slurred speech.

It was established that the defendant had the keys to the vehicle in his coat pocket.

The defendant told police that he had not been driving, despite there being no other persons in the area.

A preliminary breath test was conducted resulting in a fail.

Lyttle was subsequently arrested and taken to Banbridge Custody Suite were an evidential sample gave a reading of 73mg of alcohol in 100 ml of breath.

During interview, the defendant claimed that he had been waiting for a friend to come and drive the van.

He said that a tyre had gone on the vehicle and he had pulled in to check on it.

Lyttle claimed he then got back into the van and had started drinking.

Defence barrister Justin Byrne stated: “Mr Lyttle is a self employed builder, he lives in Bangor but on the day in question had been working in Banbridge.

“He had got a flat tyre on the van and pulled into the garage, where he contacted a friend”.

He continued: “Whilst he was waiting on his friend coming, Mr Lyttle began drinking a bottle of gin which had been in the van.”

District Judge Paul Copeland commented that this was a “convoluted” story.

He stated: “You are telling me he decided to deal with this breakdown by drinking a bottle of gin?”

Mr Byrne said: “He accepts that he inevitably faces disqualification; his licence is very important to him and he will have to make alternative arrangements”.

Judge Copeland stated: “There are a lot of question marks over what you were doing on that night, I don’t believe any of it.

“I am not impressed by any of it but what does impress me is that you have been able to stay out of trouble for the best part of ten years.”

He added: “I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt given Mr Byrne’s creative interpretation of your instructions.”

Lyttle was handed 10 penalty points and ordered to pay a fine of £500, along with the offender’s levy of £15.

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