A man who was arrested with a beer in his hand after driving from Belfast to Derry following a ‘bender’ has been jailed for eight months.

John Boyle, of no fixed abode pleaded guilty to a string of driving offences arising from an alcohol-fuelled ‘bender’.

Offences include: dangerous driving, driving when unfit through drink/drugs, failure to provide a specimen of breath, assault on police, criminal damage and disorderly behaviour.

A public prosecutor said that after filling up a car that belonged to his mother on December 5, he took off from a petrol station on the Ballymena Road without paying.

The defendant then made his way towards Derry, where there were sightings of his vehicle near Claudy.

At one point, he drove off the Barnault Road into a field and caused extensive damage to the car.

When police caught up with him, he was in the front seat of the car with a can of beer in his hand. He laughed at officers, telling them he had been on a ‘bender’ and refused to provide a specimen of breath, saying: “I don’t f**king care.”

The defendant appeared intoxicated, alcohol was lying beside him and he was said to have shown ‘no remorse for what happened’.

Boyle, who lives in Belfast, has forty-seven previous convictions, including relevant road traffic matters, assaults on police and disorderly behaviour convictions.

When taken to Altnagelvin Hospital he was abusive towards staff, and was refused treatment because of his behaviour.

He tried to spit on and kick two police officers, before being restrained and taken to Strand Road police station, where he refused another breathalyser test.

The defendant has been in custody for twelve weeks.

A defence solicitor said the custody threshold has been ‘well passed’ and his client is apologetic to the court for his transgressions.

He said the offences occurred after Boyle’s relationship had broken down and his life ‘unravelled’.

The offences meant the defendant was in breach of two suspended sentences, and his defence solicitor urged the court to temper any sentence.

However, he said there was ‘no excuse for what came to pass’ and his client has admitted culpability for the offences.

Deputy District Judge Sean O’Hare said it was ‘quite clearly a horrific series of offences’.

The judge said Boyle was subject to suspended sentences and on probation at the time, yet he behaved badly in a hospital and spat at police officers, which were ‘serious aggravating features’.

Judge O’Hare sentenced the 28-year-old to four months for the above offences, and activated a four-month suspended sentence to run consecutively.

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