A Hamiltonsbawn man who smashed his car into a wall on his way home from a football match told an off-duty police officer – who arrived on the scene – he was “full”.
Stuart Andrews, 42, of Drumorgan Court, appeared at Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting in Newry, on Tuesday charged with drink driving, failing to remain and failing to report an accident.
On Saturday, September 3, shortly before 6.45pm, an off-duty police officer was travelling along the Annareagh Road in Richhill when she came across what appeared to be a serious road traffic collision.
A Seat had collided with a wall causing extensive damage to it. The car was about 100ft further down the road towards Hamiltonsbawn.
She stopped to speak to the driver to make sure that he wasn’t injured.
The court heard how he was still attempting to drive off although the vehicle was not in a roadworthy condition – the bonnet was on the road.
She asked the defendant what had happened and he replied: “I’m full.”
The off-duty officer called 999, at which point Andrews exited the vehicle, stating he was going to “walk up the road to warn other drivers of the accident”.
As the constable turned her back to lift the bonnet off the road, Andrews ran off in the direction of Hamiltonsbawn. She gave chase and watched him make his way over fields, “falling a number of times as he ran”.
Andrews was located a little after 7pm when he failed a preliminary breath test. He was arrested and replied to caution: “I wasn’t driving, I did stop.” He was subsequently taken to Banbridge Custody where he blew a reading of 59.
Defence solicitor Patrick Morgan said the collision was a combination of the alcohol and the car aquaplaning on a puddle on the road.
“[Andrews] had previously been employed as a CCTV operator for the police service but had to leave that job eight years ago. He hasn’t worked since then.
“He had been at the football earlier in the day..it’s [the reading] not an excessive reading.”
District Judge Anne Marshall commented: “It’s quite the collision Mr Morgan, looking at the photographs. There’s a significant amount of damage to the vehicle and I think the wall as well.”
Andrews was fined £250 for excess alcohol and disqualified from driving for 18 months. He was also fined £100 for failing to remain at the scene and £50 for failing to report the accident.
He was given 26 weeks to pay.