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Man who went out for ‘one drink’ for Six Nations match later found sleeping drunk in van in a ditch

'You were almost three times the limit an hour and 20 minutes after police found you in a van with only three wheels on planet Earth'

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A Portadown man has been handed a 12-month disqualification after being found asleep whilst over the limit in a van with only three wheels on the ground.

Court heard the 23-year-old had been out for one drink during the opening weekend of the Six Nations but was convinced to stay on.

Joel Richardson, 23, of Derrycoose Road, pleaded guilty to being in charge with excess alcohol and failing to provide a preliminary breath sample at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

Court heard that on March 9, at 10.45pm, police received a report from a member of the public regarding a road traffic collision on the Clonmacash Road, Portadown.

Officers arrived at the scene at around 11pm.

They found a Peugeot Partner van in a ditch with one of its wheels in the air.

The vehicle had its ignition on, lights on and the doors were locked.

Police spotted a male lying across the two seats in the van compartment.

The officers tried shouting and banging the window but they got no response from the defendant.

Police had to break the window of the van to open it from the inside.

This awoke Richardson who was confused but not injured.

It was noted that the defendant’s speech was slurred and that he smelled of intoxicating liquor.

He was subsequently placed in the rear of a police vehicle and asked to submit to a preliminary breath test.

Richardson refused to engage with this despite being asked three times.

He stated that he would rather wait until he was at the police station.

The defendant was subsequently arrested and taken to Lurgan Custody Suite where an evidential breath test gave a reading of 91mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath.

Defence barrister Conor Lunny stated: “This is a young man who is very contrite and ashamed.

“This was the first day of the Six Nations. Mr Richardson had gone out with the intention of having one drink but was persuaded to go on to watch the second game with friends.”

He said: “This was a high enough reading, his memory is fairly vague but he thinks he pulled into the ditch to get some sleep.

“The position he finds himself in is the loss of his licence will see him out of work for the foreseeable.”

Court heard the defendant, who already had three penalty points for speeding, was the sole earner in his household for his girlfriend and their two-year-old child.

Mr Lunny said: “He wishes to apologise to the police for wasting their time and to the other road users that he put at risk. He has learned his lesson.”

Deputy District Judge Philip Mateer stated: “You are 23 years of age with no previous record. That is in your favour.

“But you were almost three times the limit an hour and 20 minutes after police found you in a van with only three wheels on planet Earth.”

He continued: “It is all very well to enjoy a rugby tournament and have a drink, it is all very sociable.

“But to take a vehicle out afterwards is very anti-social behaviour.”

Richardson was disqualified from driving for 12 months and ordered to pay a fine of £400, along with the offender’s levy of £15, within 12 weeks.

He was certified for the drink driving course which would see his ban reduced to one of nine months if completed.

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