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Man who took mother-in-law’s car without permission sentenced to four months jail

Court told defendant had spent almost two months in prison since the offence occurred

Police prison

A Craigavon man who did not think to ask his mother-in-law for permission to take her car has been handed a four-month prison sentence.

Court heard the 23-year-old waived his right to a pre-sentence report and had been in custody since the date of the offence around two months ago.

James Keenan, of Legahory Travellers Site, pleaded guilty to taking a vehicle without authority, driving whilst disqualified and using a vehicle without insurance at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday, where he appeared via videolink from Maghaberry.

Court heard that on February 7, at around 2.45pm, police received reports of a suspicious vehicle, namely a beige Volkswagen Jetta, in the Craigavon area.

At 3.45pm, officers stopped the car which was being driven on Legahory Close and spoke to the driver, who was the defendant.

Keenan produced a Republic of Ireland licence. Checks showed that he was disqualified at Grimsby Court until July 2019.

Police spoke to the owner of the car, she stated that it was not insured and that the defendant took it without her permission.

Keenan was subsequently arrested and taken to Lurgan Custody Suite.

When interviewed, he admitted to the offences but said he thought his disqualification ended in January.

He also stated that the car belonged to his mother-in-law and he had not thought to ask for permission to drive it.

Court heard that Keenan had been on remand in prison for this offence since February 8, which was the equivalent of a four-month sentence.

Defence barrister Aaron Thompson stated: “His wife was heavily pregnant at the time, he is from a Travelling background and the car belonged to his mother-in-law.

“He didn’t think he had to ask her for permission; they are a close-knit family and all live on the same site.”

He said he hoped his client was “given maximum credit” and the time spent on remand is taken into account in sentencing.

Defence added: “This is a man who always worked, he does not have the most prolific record and he is very respectful to the court. That is why he wishes to enter a plea today.”

Deputy District Judge Austin Kennedy said he noted the defendant’s wish to waive his right to a pre-sentence report.

Keenan was sentenced to four months in prison for the offences.

In addition, the defendant was also handed a two-year driving ban.

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