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24/10/2021

County Derry man disqualified after witnesses followed him home

The 41-year-old has been disqualified from driving.

County Derry man disqualified after witnesses followed him home

Magherafelt Magistrates Court.

A 41-year-old man has been hit with a disqualification after two witnesses, concerned at his erratic driving, followed him home and called the police.

Rory Conway, of Roshure Road, Magherafelt, contested a charge of driving with excess alcohol on his breath at Magherafelt Magistrates Court last week.

The court heard from a police constable who had attended a call from two female witnesses who had followed the defendant home along the Draperstown Road and Roshure Road on September 2 2019.

The constable told the court he spoke to the witnesses outside the property who said they had seen the defendant at a petrol station in Draperstown and observing he was driving 'all over the road', had followed him and called the police.

After speaking with the witnesses, the constable located a car in the driveway of the house on Roshure Road, and noted the bonnet was still warm.

Conway's partner answered the door, and when asked if the owner of the vehicle was home, the defendant, who had been in bed, appeared downstairs.

The constable noted a smell of intoxicating liquor from Conway and conducted a preliminary breath test, where a reading of 100mg was recorded.

The defendant was then arrested and taken to custody and on leaving after police interview, said: “Boys, it would have been worse if you'd got me in the car.”

Defence for Conway argued that as the comment had not been taken down in the constable's notebook and read and signed by the defendant, it was inadmissible in court.

They also said there was no evidence of the defendant driving the car, as both his partner and father had access to it.

The constable said he was not aware of anyone else inside the property at the time, and that the witnesses had described a male suspect.

Statements given by the witnesses were then partially read out in court by Judge Mullan.

One witness said she had observed Conway getting out of the car and 'urinating against the garage', before she asked him: “What do you think you're doing?”

The statement said the defendant replied “What?” and moved towards the car, prompting the witness to ask: “Where are you going? You nearly caused an accident there.”

Conway replied “I'm sorry, I'm going to my bed,” before the witness went round the back of the house and observed him at the side window with no shirt on, looking out at them.

Counsel for the defence said the details in the statement meant that the witnesses should have been able to identify the defendant as part of the Viper procedure, which they were unable to do.

Summing up, they told the court the defendant had not been detected driving the vehicle, that his unsolicited comment had been inadmissible and that he had not been identified by witnesses.

The prosecution submitted that Conway was the owner of the vehicle and that there were two witnesses to his driving who were so concerned they had followed him home.

Police had found the bonnet of the car to be warm, had spoken to the defendant and noted there didn't appear to be anyone else in the house. It was also noted Conway did not deny the charge at interview.

Judge Mullan found the defendant guilty of driving with excess alcohol on his breath, and said the failure of the defence to call Conway to give evidence was a factor in the decision.

She disqualified the defendant from driving for a period of 12 months, and issued a fine of £250, alongside an offender's levy of £15.

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