A Keady man led police on a car chase whilst under the influence of alcohol and crashed into a bridge before attempting to run away, a court has heard.
Oisin Thomas McCaul, of Mullyard Road, appeared before Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry Courthouse.
The 20-year-old was charged with a range of driving offences, including driving with excess alcohol, failing to stop, remain and report an accident, and driving with no insurance.
The court heard that on January 15 this year, at approximately 1.40am, police were conducting mobile patrol duties in the vicinity of the Tassagh Road in Keady. They observed a Seat Leon vehicle exit a car park with a young male driving.
As the vehicle turned onto the Dundrum Road in Keady, police observed the vehicle on the wrong side of the road, almost colliding with a car that was approaching the junction.
Police activated the blue lights and sirens and signalled for the vehicle to stop.
The vehicle then sped off from police and collided with a wall at a small bridge at Killyfaddy Road.
Police observed significant damage to the rear off-side wheel and noted that the cornerstone was knocked out of the bridge and onto the road.
The vehicle then continued to make off from police. As they followed from a safe distance at low speed, the driver “swerved back and forth” across the narrow, bendy road repeatedly. After travelling a distance of approximately two miles, the vehicle came to a sudden stop and the driver ran off.
He was apprehended a short distance away and identified as the defendant.
A preliminary breath test resulted in a fail and he was subsequently arrested and taken to Banbridge station. There, he provided a lower evidential sample of 64 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit in Northern Ireland is 35 microgrammes of alcohol.
A defence solicitor told the court that when the defendant – who is an apprentice joiner – was apprehended by police, he then became co-operative and apologised for his behaviour.
He explained that the defendant had been out with a number of friends, and that a designated driver had been arranged.
One of his friends became involved in an argument and the defendant made a “poor judgement call” to get out of the pub as quickly as possible.
He added that the defendant “understands that he is very lucky” that he did not injure himself or somebody else.
District Judge Anne Marshall, while giving credit to the defendant for his plea of guilty, said that the case was “more than a straightforward driving with excess alcohol”, adding that his driving was “extremely poor”.
On passing sentence, District Judge Marshall imposed a total fine of £615, to be paid within 20 weeks.
McCaul was also disqualified from driving for a period of 14 months.
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