Ballymena Court: Man with excess alcohol in breath who was in charge of vehicle on Christmas Day claimed he was bringing in presents for his partner

A MAN who police caught over the drink limit inside a parked vehicle outside a property on Christmas Day claimed he was only bringing in presents for his partner, Ballymena Magistrates Court was told.

Mark Brownlee (58), with an address listed as Castle Street in Ballymena, came to the attention of a PSNI patrol at Riverdale in the Tullygarley area of the town last Christmas Day.

The defendant pleaded guilty to being in charge of a vehicle with excess alcohol in breath.

A prosecutor said police saw the defendant sitting in a vehicle – described in court as a ‘Honda jeep’ – at 5.30pm on December 25 where the lights were on and the engine running. Officers smelt intoxicating liquor.

After a preliminary breath test was failed the defendant provided an alcohol in breath sample of 95 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit is 35 – at a police station.

The court heard the defendant had four previous drink driving and ‘in charge’ matters between 1997 and 2017.

Defence barrister Stephen Law said the defendant had been at the Tullyglass Hotel in Ballymena with his partner on the afternoon of Christmas Day and they had then gone back to her house.

Mr Law said the defendant had taken alcohol and had gone outside to the vehicle to “get her Christmas presents” and police then spotted him, having been aware of his previous offending.

The defence lawyer said it was Christmas Day and the circumstances were “exceptional”.

The court heard the defendant works as a HGV driver.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said the defendant had a very poor record for being around vehicles with alcohol taken and Brownlee was banned from driving for two years and fined £300.

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