A MAN who left a caravan site on the north coast and who was four times the drink limit when police stopped him in a BMW car on his way to a chip shop was told by a judge it was lucky he did not kill either himself or anybody else.
In one of the highest ever readings to come before Coleraine Magistrates Court, Gerard McTasney (39), of Ladbrook Drive in Belfast’s Ardoyne area, had a reading of 140 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit is 35mcgs.
The defendant was also a disqualified driver at the time and was uninsured. He had previously pleaded guilty to those two charges and a third charge of driving with excess alcohol in breath.
The offences were detected at Market Street in Ballycastle on Sunday August 26 this year – the weekend before the Auld Lammas Fair which attracts tens of thousands of people to the town.
When interviewed by police the defendant said he had driven from a caravan site into Ballycastle town centre intending to go to a chip shop.
He said he had a “few pints” earlier in the evening but had been “on the drink” the night before.
He said he didn’t think he had been disqualified from driving and thought he had only been fined when he previously appeared at Lisburn Magistrates Court.
At Coleraine Court on Monday a defence lawyer said his client accepted he had been “foolish” to drive in Ballycastle and was remorseful.
The lawyer said McTasney, a father-of-five, had been staying at a caravan in Ballycastle following an argument with his ex-partner.
The lawyer said his client’s alcohol addiction was the reason for the breakdown in the relationship.
He said McTasney had been employed with a butcher’s firm for twenty years and had been in a management role.
The lawyer said the defendant was aware of what the consequences could have been by taking to the road and was relieved there had been no accident or anyone injured.
The lawyer said McTasney had attempted rehabilitation and is also getting counselling but “has been unable to rid himself of the demons”.
District Judge Liam McNally said it was the defendant’s third drink driving related conviction and he had flouted a court order and driven whilst banned and was four times the legal limit on this occasion.
The judge said he was always prepared to help people with addictions who wanted to help themselves but that McTasney had committed these offences after being through a rehab centre.
He said he had no alternative but to jail the defendant as McTasney had got into a car and had “not only put your life at risk but the life of anyone else you would have met on the road with a reading of 140”.
The defendant was jailed for three months and banned from driving for four years.