‘Do not insult my intelligence’ says judge

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A 75-year-old man was given suspended prison sentences last Wednesday at Craigavon Magistrates Court for motoring offences.

William John Cunningham, Clare Road, Waringstown, admitted driving while disqualified and not having insurance.

For each he was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for three years, and banned from driving for 12 months. For not having a vehicle test certificate he was fined £100.

The offences came to light when he was stopped while driving on the Bleary Road, Portadown on January 30 this year.

A solicitor representing Cunningham said her client believed that his period of disqualification had expired.

Judge Kelly said the opinion she had formed was that Cunningham believed he was above the law. The solicitor claimed he was not regularly on the road.

Judge Kelly: “His wife doesn’t drive but he drives constantly and this day he was stopped. Stop trying to fill my head full of nonsense.”

The solicitor added the defendant had been leaving his wife home from hospital and ought to have known. He would apologise for the position he put himself and his wife in.

She added a pre-sentence report assessed him as at a low risk of re-offending. Judge Kelly said she didn’t agree with that assessment and had formed a view about the matter.

She told Cunningham that given his background and record she didn’t believe ‘for one split second’ he couldn’t have found out when the disqualification and suspended sentence were up.

The judge added that during interview he denied that he had been driving. Cunningham told her that his solicitor had told him to say that and that he had only driven the once.

“Do not insult my intelligence,” replied Judge Kelly.

She said that he had told police it was his son’s car and he had not been driving until police produced CCTV of him getting out of the car.

“You have a lax attitude towards court orders and when your back is up against the wall you blame your lawyer,” said Judge Kelly. “You ignore court orders and drive when it suits you.”

Imposing the suspended sentences she warned Cunningham if she saw him again in court for similar offending he would be going to prison.

She also ordered forfeiture of the car he was driving at the time of the offences.

The judge made no order in respect of a suspended sentence imposed in 2016.