A PHYSIOTHERAPIST found asleep in the middle of the night in his parked car which suffered a puncture four days before Christmas has pleaded guilty to being in charge of the vehicle whilst having excess alcohol in his breath.
Nicolas Rossi (29), of Ardmore Terrace, Holywood, County Down, was detected at 3am last December 21 in the area of the Lisnevenagh Road dual-carriageway near Ballymena.
A prosecutor told Ballymena Magistrates Court, on Thursday, police received a report that a “small black car had been seen driving the wrong way up the road towards Antrim”.
The lawyer said police then found a small black car pulled in at a public laneway off the Lisnevenagh Road with two males asleep inside.
Rossi was in the driver seat of his vehicle with the keys in the centre console and he told police that whilst on the way home from Portstewart the car suffered a puncture and he was awaiting a recovery vehicle.
The prosecutor said police could smell intoxicating liquor and the defendant admitted he had been drinking with his friend earlier.
The defendant had an alcohol in breath reading at the roadside of 67 and 48 in custody – the legal limit is 35.
The court heard the defendant had no record and a defence solicitor provided three “very formidable references” from a line manager of the defendant, a professor and a “clergyman”.
The defence lawyer said Rossi would deny that his was the vehicle seen travelling the wrong way and he was not charged with any offence specifically related to driving.
The solicitor said that after suffering a puncture, Rossi’s vehicle pulled in and when two garages were phoned he put his seat back, took the key out and went to sleep whilst waiting for a repair vehicle and had not driven for some time.
The lawyer said Rossi is a French national who has lived here for six years and works as a physiotherapist.
The solicitor said references said he was a “dedicated health professional” and also mentioned the defendant’s “contribution to the Health Service” during the Covid crisis.
He said Rossi has now enrolled at a university in England and his conduct on the night in question last December was “wholly out of character”.
District Judge Nigel Broderick he was “very concerned” about the circumstances of the case but said the “very comprehensive references” showed Rossi is “clearly a gentleman of good character”.
He said credit could be given for a clear record and an early guilty plea and banned the defendant from driving for nine months along with a £250 fine.