Man’s bid to steal car to get home from hospital

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Having been discharged from Craigavon Area Hospital a man tried to break into a car in order to get home, Craigavon Magistrate’s Court heard last Wednesday.

When arrested Ronald Andrew Clarke also tried to attack police in Lurgan station with a makeshift weapon.

Police were at Craigavon Hospital dealing with an unrelated matter when a member of the public reported that the 40-year-old from Fort Street in Banbridge was trying to break into a Ford Fiesta.

When police observed Clarke his eyes were glazed, his speech was slurred but there was no smell of intoxicating liquor. The Ford Fiesta had dents and chips on the passenger door.

Clarke admitted to police that he wanted to go home to Banbridge and that he had the money for a taxi or bus but didn’t want to use it. He told police he knew how to hotwire a car.

He was taken to Lurgan station and while in the toilets he removed a piece of wood from the sink frame and threatened officers with the makeshift weapon.

Court was told he had a record from 1990 to 2000, but the offences including nothing of similar nature to these charges.

His defence solicitor said: “This is another case of an individual who has had their life blighted through alcohol.

“On this occasion he needed help so he presented himself to the hospital.

“He’d been discharged under medication and his actions were in part as a result of him being under medication.

“He accepts this doesn’t excuse his actions.”

The solicitor said Clarke had the positive influence of his family to help him through this matter.

He said that according to a former employer, in sobriety, the defendant was a useful member of society.

The district judge gave him credit for admitting his guilt to all the offences and for recognising the need to seek help.

He said: “I think the medication seems to have had an adverse affect on him that the hospital hadn’t anticipated.”

For the incident in the police station he was charged with criminal damage, possession of an offensive weapon and two counts of assaulting a police officer.

Clarke was given 12 months probation with participation in the alcohol and drug treatment programme. He was also given 100 hours community service.

For the offence of attempting to take a motor vehicle without authority he was disqualified for six months and ordered to pay £200 compensation for the damage caused to the car.