A judge has hit out at lorry drivers using hand-held mobile phones whilst driving, especially on motorways.
District Judge Nigel Broderick was speaking at Antrim Magistrates Court where Michael MacKenna (55), of Hazelbrook, Magherafelt, admitted using a mobile whilst driving a lorry on the M2 motorway near Sandyknowes on February 4 this year.
A defence lawyer said the defendant wished to apologise unreservedly for his actions.
MacKenna had been working on the day in question when his elderly father, who was in ill-health, phoned.
The defendant told the judge he had taken the call because he had been worried about his dad.
As he lifted the phone a police patrol pulled up beside him and he immediately put the phone down.
Judge Broderick said the circumstances of taking the call would have been “cold comfort” to anyone the lorry driver had killed or injured.
The judge sad a clear message had to be sent out about the dangers of drivers, especially lorry drivers, using hand held mobile phones on motorways.
The defence lawyer urged the judge not to ban the defendant as he would lose his ability to work.
MacKenna was given three penalty points and fined £300.
The same court heard Paul Joseph McManus (32), of The Meadows, Randalstown, was caught using a hand-held mobile phone while driving a lorry at Castle Road, Randalstown, on February 19 this year.
A defence lawyer said it was a hired vehicle without a hands-free kit.
The court heard that as well as being a lorry driver himself the defendant was a transport co-ordinator for twenty other workers.
The detection was made when he was doing around 30mph, the defence lawyer said.
The lawyer said the defendant was on the phone in connection with getting a ferry booking reference.
Judge Broderick said in England and Wales courts could give six penalty points and higher fines for mobile phone offences than in Northern Ireland where it was three points and a lesser fine.
He added: “I take a dim view of anybody driving large vehicles using mobile phones”.
He said the potential dangers were aggravated by the size of such vehicles.
McManus was given three penalty points and a £300 fine.