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Joiner convicted of using hand-held phone whilst driving van claimed he was ‘poking at wax in his ear’

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A joiner convicted of using a hand held mobile phone whilst driving a van claimed in court he was not holding a handset and instead had been poking at wax in his ear.

However, a judge believed the account of two police officers who took to the witness box to say they saw Samuel Butler (25), of Garryduff Road, Ballymoney, holding a phone whilst driving at Newbridge Road near the town.

At Coleraine Magistrates Court on Friday, Butler denied holding a phone during an incident on January 15 this year.

A PSNI officer told the court he was driving an unmarked police vehicle and saw the defendant with his right hand up to his right ear and he believed it was a mobile phone.

Another officer said he looked out the rear window and saw Butler holding a phone.

The defendant, who had a hands-free kit in the van, had refused to accept a fixed penalty ticket at the road side.

Butler told the court he was driving to work and was using his hands-free kit and had been “scratching” his ear.

He said he had an “ear problem” involving an “ingress of wax” and added: “If I poke my ear long enough the buzzing goes”.

District Judge Liam McNally said he was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers had seen Butler holding a mobile phone to his ear.

The court heard Butler had a previous conviction for using a hand held mobile phone whilst driving and the judge said that because the latest case had been contested he could not be given discount for pleading guilty and ran the risk of being disqualified.

Butler, who was self-represented at court, said if he lost his licence it would impact on his self-employed business.

Judge McNally said he would not ban Butler from the road,

Giving him three penalty points and a £250 fine the judge told him: “You need to be very careful in future”.

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