Court hears motorist who was over the limit at Larne port had 'turned to alcohol' after his daughter was murdered in Newtownabbey tragedy

Court hears motorist who was over the limit at Larne port had 'turned to alcohol' after his daughter was murdered in Newtownabbey tragedy

A MAN who a defence lawyer said "turned to alcohol" after his daughter was murdered in a tragic double killing in Newtownabbey, was found in charge of a vehicle with excess alcohol in his breath at Larne port, a court heard on Thursday.

Paul Knell (51) of Cloyne Crescent, Newtownabbey, was detected at 9.50pm on May 25 this year.

A prosecutor told Ballymena Magistrates Court police received a report of a 'drink driver' at the ferry terminal at Larne Harbour.

The defendant's vehicle was parked at the front of the terminal.

He was in the driver's seat with the keys in a jeans pocket.

The defendant told police he had driven to the car to its current location and was planning to get the boat to Scotland. Officers could smell intoxicating liquor.

The defendant had a reading of 71 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath - the legal limit is 35.

The prosecutor said there were no witnesses to the vehicle being driven.

A defence lawyer said the defendant's daughter was "tragically murdered" a short time previously and after not taking drink for three-and-a-half years he had "turned to alcohol".

The lawyer said the defendant missed the boat and began to drink in the vehicle.

He said it was a "tragic" case and the defendant's "head wasn't clear" at the time after his daughter's murder and his dad passing away the year before.

The court heard the defendant already had six penalty points on his licence.

The defence lawyer said the licence was "very important" to the defendant as he suffers from a "severe lung disorder" and he has to go to and from medical appointments.

The defendant, who appeared at court via video link from his solicitor's office, was banned from driving for a month and fined £200.

In March this year Mr Knell's daughter Stacey Knell (30) and Karen McClean (50) were murdered in Newtownabbey.

Police believe their killer was Ken Flanagan, who took his own life after murdering his 50-year-old mother, Ms McClean, and his girlfriend, Ms Knell.

At the time PSNI Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell said in a statement to the media: "This was a really shocking and horrific double murder of two women inside their own homes. A place where they should have been safe.

"My thoughts are very much with their families as they come to terms with their tragic loss. Both women were mothers and this appalling murder has left children facing a lifetime without their mums.

"Just after 10.55pm on Friday evening, police received a report of a stabbing at a residential property in the Derrycoole Way area.

"Officers attended, along with colleagues from NIAS and sadly, a woman was pronounced dead.

"Officers then attended a residential property in the Glenville Road area where a second woman was found dead."

An unconscious man was also found inside the property who subsequently died. He was 26-year-old Ken Flanagan.

"I am not looking for anyone else in connection with the murders which I believe are connected," the police officer had said in March this year.

  • Main picture: Larne port.