A 34-year-old man was discovered to have overdosed on drugs when he crashed into a fast-food drive-through in Derry.
The defendant, who had passed his driving test just four days prior to the incident, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, driving when unfit through drugs, driving without due care and attention and possession of Class B drug cannabis.
All offences took place on April 10, 2016, when an eyewitness reported seeing the defendant driving dangerously at the Caw Roundabout around 1.20am.
Police were unable to locate the defendant, but another report was made explaining that Patrick McMahon, 34, of Upper Suffolk Road in Belfast, had ‘crashed into the drive-through at McDonald’s’, Crescent Link Retail Park.
A Public Prosecutor said he then made his way to Altnagelvin Roundabout where he drove in the direction of the Foreglen Road near Claudy, with police in pursuit.
Officers noted how he ‘erratically swerved onto the hard shoulder’ before coming to a stop a short time later.
A preliminary breath test showed that he had no alcohol in his system, but officers said his ‘speech was slurred’, he was ‘unable to stand’, ‘extremely jumpy’ and his ‘iris’ were barely visible’.
A drugs search was carried out and police recovered a ‘cannabis joint’ and ‘grinder’ from his vehicle, which the 34-year-old said he was ‘holding for a mate’ and ‘would take a caution for it’.
In police custody McMahon’s condition deteriorated to the point he was unable to converse with officers, and he was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital for a ‘suspected overdose’.
At the second time of trying an interview was carried out, during which the defendant denied being on ‘any medication or taking any other drugs’.
A defence solicitor said her client has a ‘number of issues with drugs’ and has been hospitalised for mental health problems in the past.
She said McMahon has passed his driving test four days before and had ‘overdosed’ two days prior to this incident.
He is ‘very ashamed’ of his actions, the defence solicitor explained, and there has been a significant gap in his offending.
Passing sentence, Deputy District Judge Noel Dunlop said it was ‘obvious the defendant needs help’ with his drug problems, and therefore imposed a probation order for a period of eighteen months.
McMahon was also fined £500 and disqualified from driving for twelve months.
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