A Derry man caught driving his child to the swimming pool in a ‘completely intoxicated’ state has been disqualified from driving and given a community service order.

John O’Connor, 57, of Malvern Terrace is charged with driving when unfit through drink, and twice failing to provide a specimen of breath on March 5, 2017.

A Public Prosecutor said witnesses approached the vehicle as they believed the defendant was intoxicated.

When police spoke to one witness she recounted seeing him getting into the car with his young son.

O’Connor explained he was taking his child to the swimming pool and appeared to have difficulty ‘finding gear and moving off’.

A short time later he was seen driving on Spencer Road, ‘straddling the middle of the road’, and once stopped by police refused to provide a sample of breath at the scene, and again at Strand Road police station.

A defence solicitor said her client had turned to alcohol ‘as a means of coping’ with personal difficulties in his life.

She told the court that O’Connor takes his child swimming every Sunday and was driving down Fountain Hill in the Waterside when he realised he ‘wasn’t in a fit state to drive’, then turned to go home.

The defendant has sought help from his doctor and has been trying to enrol in a programme to address his alcohol problem.

District Judge Oonagh Mullan said: “This is the fifth time you have been before the court for drink driving matters.

“There was a break for some time, however, circumstances on this occasion make it a very serious.

“There was a young child in the car and you mounted the footpath.”

She added: “It’s lucky no-one received injuries as a result.”

Judge Mullan sentenced the 57-year-old to a combination order, consisting of twelve months on probation, with seventy hours community service, and an additional requirement to engage in a drug and alcohol treatment programme.

O’Connor was also disqualified from driving for four years.

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