A MAN spotted by an off-duty police officer driving erratically between Larne and Ballymena claimed he was rushing to get past traffic because he thought he was suffering a “heart attack”.
Ronald Cahela (49) admitted a charge of driving without due care and attention at roads including Shanes Hill Road and Moorfields Road in relation to the afternoon of July 10 this year.
A prosecutor told Ballymena Magistrates Court, on Thursday, police received a report of a jeep-type vehicle driving erratically and it was later located parked at Carndale Meadows in Ballymena.
The witness, an off-duty police officer, said they had been overtaken at speed and saw the vehicle swerving across the road and driving “bumper to bumper” with other vehicles.
Police were told the defendant attempted numerous careless overtaking manoeurves including an attempted overtake at a corner only to be met with oncoming traffic before pulling sharply back in.
The prosecutor said the defendant told police he “thought he was having a heart attack and needed to get home to take a spray”.
The prosecutor said Cahela told police he had severe chest pains and needed to get medication and access to a phone after forgetting to take his mobile phone with him.
The defendant told police he suffered from heart disease and had three heart attacks and eight stents inserted.
Defence solicitor Sara Edge said she forwarded a letter to the court from the defendant’s GP to verify he suffers from a number of heart issues
The solicitor said the defendant had been “extremely panicked” on the date in question as he had travelled without a mobile phone to ring an ambulance and he had no GTN spray.
Ms Edge said the defendant had been in the process of moving accommodation between Larne and Ballymena which was why the defendant said it was unusual for him not to have his phone in his possession.
She said the defendant, whose address was listed as Herbert Avenue in Larne, wished to apologise for the standard of his driving.
The court heard the defendant, who a previous court heard is an American, suffers from “significant post-traumatic stress disorder in relation to previous military employment”.
District Judge Nigel Broderick said it was “a bad piece of driving” and banned the defendant – whom the court heard was currently disqualified for separate matters – for nine months and fined him £200.