Van driver was four times over drink limit

Craigavon Courthouse. INPT21-239.

Craigavon Courthouse. INPT21-239.

After drinking eight to ten pints of a beer a 37-year-old man drove a van in a Portadown street where he knocked down a woman and two police officers.

Patrick O’Brien, from Cashel, County Tipperary, appeared in the dock last Wednesday at Craigavon Magistrates Court.

He admitted driving with excess alcohol in breath on January 31 this year, dangerous driving, driving while disqualified, not having insurance and failing to stop after an accident.

The court heard that O’Brien drove a van into a female and knocked two police officers down in West Street.

He drove on but police managed to catch up with him on foot when he became stuck in traffic.

An initial breath test gave a reading of 129 and he was taken to Lurgan custody suite where an evidential test gave a reading of 139.

When O’Brien was interviewed he made full admissions and said he had taken eight to ten pints of beer.

The female who was struck fell over onto a footpath and received bruising to her leg although she did not require any medical assistance.

One of the police officers tried to stop the vehicle and told the driver several times to get out.

He reached in to try and get the keys out of the ignition but the van accelerated and the officer, to avoid being dragged along, had to take his arm out of the vehicle.

A female officer was also dragged to the ground and felt pain to both knees while an officer suffered bleeding from a one centimetre cut on his hand.

District Judge, Mr Mervyn Bates, said these were very serious circumstances.

A solicitor representing O’Brien said his client was under no illusion about the seriousness of the matters.

He added that the defendant had a mental health and alcohol background. O’Brien had travelled up with his father on the morning of the court from Tipperary.

The solicitor said that the only saving grace, though only by chance, was that there were no serious injuries.

He explained that O’Brien had been living and working in Northern Ireland for two to three years and had issues with alcohol.

The solicitor explained the defendant felt isolated here and took to consuming alcohol as a coping mechanism.

He was now living in Tipperary where he had more support and he was seeking help from AA.

He added that O’Brien was ashamed of his actions and asked the court if a custodial sentence was imposed to consider suspending it.

A public prosecutor said the defendant had been disqualified from driving in the Republic of Ireland in June 2014 for two years and had a relevant conviction in this jurisdiction.

Judge Bates said the seriousness of the offences could not be underestimated but thankfully persons were not seriously injured.

He said the alcohol reading was very serious, it was four times the limit.

The judge also pointed out that O’Brien had been disqualified here in December of last year and had a number of offences in the Republic of Ireland.

Judge Bates said that a pre-sentence report would be required and as the defendant had no Northern Ireland address he would remand him in custody until March 23 so that a report could be prepared.

The solicitor representing the defendant asked it to be taken to the videolink at Friday’s court to see if a bail address could be obtained.

At last Friday’s court a barrister said that no address was available and O’Brien was remanded in custody through until March 23.

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