Ballymena Court: Man whose family owns a pub gets suspended jail term for driving twice in two weeks whilst banned

A MAN whose family owns a pub has been given a suspended jail term after twice being caught driving whilst disqualified inside two weeks, Ballymena Magistrates Court has been told.

Noel McKenna (55), of Ballyginniff Road, Aldergrove, was detected at Larne Road Link in Ballymena on May 10 this year and at Ballymena Road in Antrim on May 22.

The defendant appeared via video link from his solicitor’s office for sentencing on charges of driving whilst disqualified and no insurance on the dates in question.

Regarding Larne Road Link he was also charged with fraudulent use of a registration mark.

In relation to the Ballymena incident, a prosecutor said police stopped a car at 2.30am and the defendant initially gave a false name and said he was in the town “visiting his girlfriend”.

The registration plate was linked to another vehicle.

The defendant later confirmed his correct name and that he had been banned from driving and said he had removed number plates from his ex-wife’s vehicle and put them on the car he was driving.

Police contacted her and she confirmed she didn’t know McKenna had been using the plates and she had not given permission.

Later the defendant told police he had bought copies of his ex-wife’s registration plates from a dealer and claimed he did not have to show any proof of ownership for the transaction.

He told police he had copies made because his ex-wife’s number plates were “dirty”.

Defence barrister Neil Moore said the defendant had been in Ballymena going to a friend’s home to obtain medication for his elderly father as there were no chemists open.

Regarding May 10, the defence lawyer said the defendant said he had bought a vehicle for his daughter.

The lawyer said the defendant is involved with his “family business” – a pub – which is currently closed because of the pandemic and at the moment he was on benefits.

The defendant was given a four months jail term, suspended for one year; and banned from driving for a year. He was also fined £200.

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