Dangerous drink driver at wheel of ‘communal’ tractor gets five months sentence after late night police chase

Sean McKay

A drink driver who was previously disqualified from the roads was detected at the wheel of a ‘communal’ tractor and then attempted to out-run police in a late night chase in the Glens, a court heard.

Ballymena Magistrates Court was told Sean Henry McKay was driving a Massey Ferguson, which according to his defence barrister, is left with the keys inside for locals to use to make their way home on nights out.

The defendant (33), of Ballymena Road in Carnlough, committed offences on Good Friday – April 19 – this year at Feystown Road in the nearby Glenarm area.

McKay was given a five months jail term and a six year driving ban but was given £500 bail pending appeal.

Charges he pleaded guilty to included dangerous driving; failing to stop for police; using a Massey Ferguson tractor without insurance; driving while disqualified; resisting police; assault on police; and driving with excess alcohol in breath.

Defence lawyer Stephen Law told the court the defendant had used the tractor whilst he was intoxicated and knowing he was disqualified from driving.

Mr Law claimed the tractor is “left open” with the keys inside “and if you need to make your way home in it you do”.

A prosecutor said that at 11.30pm on April 19 this year police in the Glenarm area saw the tractor which McKay then reversed away “at speed”.

Police put on their lights and sirens and took off in pursuit of the tractor which reversed back towards the police vehicle and on several occasions the pursuing police car had to take evasive action to avoid collisions because of the manner of McKay’s driving.

McKay then alighted from the tractor and “punched out” and tried to get an officer in a headlock causing a cut to the officer’s hand.

The defendant had an alcohol in breath reading of 91 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit is 35mcgs.

The court also heard that at 12.15am on March 11 this year – the defendant’s birthday – police saw a Massey Ferguson tractor parked at Marine Road in Carnlough with three males onboard including McKay who was in the driver’s seat. The ignition was not on but the keys were in the footwell.

On that occasion he had an alcohol in breath reading of 89 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath and pleaded guilty to being in charge of a vehicle with excess alcohol in his breath.

Mr Law accepted the defendant, who had secured a job at Ballylumford, had a “terrible” record and said McKay regretted what he had done.

As well as jailing McKay for five months, District Judge Nigel Broderick banned him from driving for six years and the defendant has to re-sit his test before getting back on the road.

The judge said: “You have a very poor record. It’s not even a case that somebody gets into a tractor and takes a drink and drives home again, you are also disqualified; you also drove dangerously and then you assault police when they arrest you to prevent you from doing injury to yourself and others”.

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