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Publican ‘L’ driver caught on motorway on cash and carry booze run

Court heard he had lost his licence in 2015 and had since struggled with the theory test

A publican who was only the holder of a provisional licence was detected on the motorway on his way to the cash and carry for booze.

The 54-year-old’s barrister told court that having driven for many years the defendant had struggled with the theory test since losing his licence in 2015.

Noel Colm MacKenna, of Ballyginniff Road, Aldergrove, pleaded guilty to no ‘L’ plates, being an unaccompanied L driver, being an L driver on the motorway, using a vehicle without insurance and a defective tyre at Craigavon Magistrates’ on Friday.

Prosecution outlined that on May 28, at around midday, police observed a red Transit van parked on the hard shoulder of the M1 motorway near Portadown.

As officers approached the defendant got out of the driver’s seat of the vehicle and informed them he had been driving.

Police checks showed that there was no valid insurance policy out on the van and it was later established that MacKenna was a provisional licence holder.

It was observed that the vehicle was not displaying ‘L’ plates and that the defendant was unaccompanied.

MacKenna had also been an L driver on the motorway.

Upon inspection of the van, it was also noted that the front nearside tyre was devoid of tread.

The defendant was cautioned for the offences and made no reply.

Defence barrister David McKeown stated: “This is the case of a man who had been driving for many, many years but he lost his licence for an offence in 2015 and has struggled with the theory test since.

“He has a previous history of being able to drive. He owns a public house in Antrim.”

He continued: “He owned the building for a long time but someone else had been running the business. He then recently took it over himself.

“The agreement had been that the bar would be left fully stocked but when he arrived it wasn’t and he jumped in the car to go to the off-licence cash and carry to get alcohol.”

Mr McKeown said: “This predates the last entry on his record. This culmination of offending has brought home that until he gets back on the road legally he can’t get behind the wheel of any vehicle.”

Deputy District Judge John Rea stated: “Mr MacKenna, I accept that these offences predate the most recent entries on your record and that you could have been sentenced on June 8 had they been processed on time.

“I am not going to send you to prison as I believe that it has been brought home to you that this is a serious pattern of offending.”

MacKenna was disqualified from driving for eight months and ordered to pay a fine of £700, along with the offender’s levy of £15, within 20 weeks.

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