Drink driver ‘lucky he did not kill himself’

Symbol of law and justice in the empty courtroom, law and justice concept.
Symbol of law and justice in the empty courtroom, law and justice concept.

A drunken driver whose van hit a number of kerbs was told he was lucky he did not kill himself or someone else when he appeared last Wednesday at Craigavon Magistrates Court.

Paul Branagan, whose address was given as Ballyeden Meadows, Magheralin, was fined £350 and banned for 16 months for driving with excess alcohol in his breath on September 14 last year.

He was also fined £250, ordered to pay a £15 offender’s levy and banned for 12 months for dangerous driving.

The court heard a member of the public informed police about a van being driven at 9.20pm on the Belfast Road to Magheralin.

A registration number was provided and police went to the home of the last registered owner, the defendant.

Branagan said he had returned home at 8.30pm and he had not taken any alcohol since then.

He changed this to say that he had two beers.

He failed a preliminary breath test and in the custody suite he claimed he had taken spiced rum.

A witness said the van he was driving on the M1 and the Belfast Road was being driven erratically and hit a number of kerbs.

Branagan continued to say that he had been home before nine that night.

An evidential test gave a reading of 72 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath - the legal limit is 35 microgrammes.

When interviewed and asked if he was driving the van he said yes and couldn’t remember what time he was driving.

Defence solicitor Siun Downey said her client was a joiner currently working at the New University of Ulster and the outcome of the case would impact him greatly both personally and at work.

District Judge Stephen Keown told Branagan he was lucky he did not kill himself or someone else.