A MAN who reportedly had a ‘young child’ in a vehicle which he was driving between Ballymena and Ballymoney while under the influence of cannabis in connection with a trip to visit a family member has avoided jail.
Craig Frampton (37), with an address listed as Skegoneill Avenue, Belfast, was at Coleraine Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena on November 2, via a video link for sentencing on charges of driving whilst disqualified; driving whilst unfit and absence of insurance.
A prosecutor said on June 2 last year police received reports from members of the public that around 1.30pm a Ford Focus was being driven erratically and swerving over the Crankill Road and a “young child” was in the back.
The vehicle was stopped by police at the Frosses Road near Ballymoney and police detected a strong smell of cannabis coming from the vehicle which was being driven by Frampton.
A preliminary breath test was zero but Frampton was deemed to be impaired after police carried out an impairment test.
Further checks showed the defendant was a disqualified driver.
Defence barrister Alan Stewart said the defendant had a “lamentable record”.
The court was told a visit had been arranged for Frampton to see his brother “at Magilligan” but his father was unable to do that and rather than cancel the visit the defendant “stupidly decided that he would be the one to drive to the visit”.
Mr Stewart said given the nature of the offences and the defendant’s previous record he had no doubt custody was being considered and said it seemed to have taken the “clink of the prison cell door before he has brought himself to wise up”.
District Judge Peter King said the defendant was in fact one step beyond that and “he is actually listening to the engine of the van heading to Maghaberry” and added: “The record is lamentable”.
The judge said the defendant had previous convictions for being in charge of a vehicle whilst unfit in August 2017; there was a driving whilst unfit in November 2017; driving whilst unfit in March 2018 and in September 2019 a driving while disqualified.
The judge said the defendant was already sitting on suspended jail terms.
He said the only reason he was not sending him to prison for the matter before him was because of the “choreography” of the timing of the offences in relation to when they happened and sentencing.
For the latest offences the judge ordered the defendant to do of 200 hours of Community Service and banned him from driving for four years.