A disqualified motorist caught behind the wheel in Coleraine claimed he was driving a car in relation to a valeting business which he started out of “financial desperation” after losing his previous job.
David Gazda (23), of Mount Street in Coleraine, was spotted by police in an Astra vehicle at the town’s Railway Road in July this year. Officers stopped him “due to the manner of his driving” and the defendant admitted he was banned and therefore also uninsured.
He told police he was “sorry”. At Coleraine Magistrates Court on September 24, defence barrister Eoghan Devlin said courts sometimes hear that banned drivers willfully take to the road again but in this case the defendant perhaps didn’t appreciate the full significance of the court order and, secondly, Gazda was under financial pressure.
Mr Devlin said Gazda had lost his job and had started a valet business. The lawyer said the defendant was sending money home to Poland for his younger brother. Mr Devlin said the root of the offence was “perhaps naivety”.
District Judge Peter King told the court that in November last year the defendant received a four months jail sentence, suspended for two years, for driving whilst disqualified. The defendant, who was accompanied by an interpreter, confirmed to the judge he understood what a suspended sentence meant.
The judge said when Gazda drove again in the summer he must have known he was risking imprisonment. However, Judge King said he would not jail the defendant but ordered him to do 180 hours of unpaid work; imposed a four months jail term suspended for three years and banned the defendant from driving for three years.