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Markethill delivery driver loses licence after thinking he was safe to drive following four or five pints

A man who was spotted by police coming out of a bar in Markethill before leaving in his van has been banned from driving for a year.

William James Rowntree (58), whose address was given as Main Street in the town, was spotted by officers on April 18 this year.

He appeared at a hearing at Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting in Newry, on Tuesday, where he pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol.

The court heard how police followed him and stopped him on the Fairgreen Road.

There was a strong smell of alcohol and he told officers he had drunk four or five pints of beer.

Defence counsel said his client had been a delivery driver for 23 years, had no points on his licence, and the loss of his licence was an “extreme inconvenience, to say the least”.

A reference was provided by his employer, and counsel said the employer was trying to find another role for Rowntree in the company during the disqualification, due to his experience and the high esteem in which he is held.

He said that on the night in question the man’s friend had asked him to go for a drink.

Counsel said his client refuted police claims that he had done a ‘lap’ of the town in an attempt to avoid them.

“This man instructs he didn’t see the police. He left the bar. He went to the local shop to get something for his tea and returned to the van. He thought he was okay to drive,” he said.

District Judge Anne Marshall gave the defendant credit for his early guilty plea and also fined him £200 and an offender levy of £15.

She also told him he was eligible to do a drink driver course which would reduce his disqualification by 25 per cent.

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