A MAN who was three times the drink limit when found sleeping in a vehicle in the corner of a car park at Ballygally on the Coast Road said he had been living in the vehicle after becoming “homeless”.
Steven Starrett came to police attention at 10.25am on July 9 this year when he was asleep in a car with an open bottle of gin between his legs and the keys in the ignition.
The defendant blew 110 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit is 35 – and he admitted being in charge of a vehicle with excess alcohol in his breath.
A defence solicitor told Ballymena Magistrates Court the defendant (49) – with an address at Milltown View in the Tullyally area of Derry/Londonderry – has been married for 27 years.
She added: “At the beginning of Covid his relationship broke down and he found himself in a particularly bad way, he was homeless.
“He didn’t know where to go so he stayed in his car in a local car park which has washing facilities; a toilet and a food van.
“He was scared; it was ‘Covid’ (times); he didn’t know who to approach.
“He advised me it became difficult to sleep in the car at night and as a result he started drinking and that is what helped him fall asleep.”
District Judge Nigel Broderick said he would not disqualify the defendant from driving and “accept the fact that he was in a car park sleeping it out. On that basis there is no suspicion that there was anything else going on”.
The defendant was given ten penalty points and a £250 fine.