Three-and-a-half-times-drink-limit motorist bolted from vehicle which had crashed into a fence and hedges in Crumlin area

Three-and-a-half-times-drink-limit motorist bolted from vehicle which had crashed into a fence and hedges in Crumlin area

A DRIVER who was three and a half times the legal drink limit crashed into a hedge and fence before bolting from the vehicle and kicking and punching a police officer when caught.

Details emerged as Patrick Herron (30), a paving contractor, with an address listed as Nutts Corner Road, Crumlin, pleaded guilty to several charges arising out of the incident around midnight on June 28 this year.

The defendant was sentenced after being charged with assaulting a police officer; resisting another officer; driving with excess alcohol in breath and causing criminal damage to a police vehicle.

A prosecutor told Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena, police were informed a Nissan Qashqai had crashed into a fence and hedging at Nutts Corner Road with a male and female inside.

Police arrived to see the reversing lights on and the engine being revved.

Herron was in the driver's seat and when police shouted at him to turn the ignition off and get out he suddenly ran off and was pursued on foot.

After ending up in a hedge he "refused to get up".

The prosecutor said when "pulled" from the hedge the defendant became aggressive and kicked out and struck the officer on the face causing a red mark and soreness below his eye.

The court heard the defendant "continued kicking and punching" and police deployed spray.

In a cell van Herron began to "spit and clear his nose".

The prosecutor said a female was found hiding in a garden and she told police she had not been driving.

During interview, Herron said he was driving.

He said he and woman had been out drinking and could not get a taxi and had driven home but "due to his level of drunkenness collided with the fence".

The prosecutor said the defendant told police he had "panicked" and wished to apologise for assaulting the police officer.

The defendant told police he was spitting and clearing his nose because he had been 'pepper-sprayed' and also apologised for that.

Herron had an alcohol in breath reading of 121 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath - the legal limit is 35.

District Judge Nigel Broderick read references provided to the court on behalf of the defendant, which defence solicitor Cathal Kelly said were "glowing".

The solicitor said his client was making "no excuse for his behaviour" and was remorseful.

The lawyer said a pre-sentence report showed the offending was "out of character".

The solicitor said the cost of fixing the fence was covered by the vehicle insurance.

Judge Broderick told the defendant, who appeared via video link form his solicitor's office: "This is a nasty incident. Bad enough to be drunk driving, even worse to be such a high level, but then to run away and fight with the police is a serious aggravating feature.

"If you repeat this behaviour then there would be a strong likelihood you would go to prison".

The defendant was given a three months prison term, suspended for 18 months, and was banned from driving for 18 months

The judge also ordered Herron to pay £500 compensation to the police officer and added: "All he was doing was his job, trying to effect an arrest of somebody who was excessively over the limit".