Woman pleads guilty to drink driving following dramatic coastal embankment car plunge

The scene in Portballintrae where a car plunged over the cliff edge. Pic Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia

A WOMAN has pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol in connection with a dramatic incident where a car plunged down a steep coastal embankment.

Deborah Shaw (44), of Beach Road, Portballintrae, admitted driving with excess alcohol in her breath at Bayhead Road, Portballintrae, in north Antrim, on Monday January 27 this year.

The scene in Portballintrae. Pic Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia

 

She appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday.

The charge follows an incident when a car plunged over the side of an embankment at Portballintrae harbour.

The fire and ambulance service were called to the scene on Bayhead Road after 8pm on January 27.

Firefighters made the vehicle safe while the woman driving the car was treated by the ambulance service.

Press pictures at the time showed a car midway down an embankment and a rescue vehicle in attendance.

A prosecutor told Monday’s Court that at around 8.30pm police were tasked to a one vehicle road traffic collision where the vehicle had ended up at the bottom of a verge near the Bayview Hotel.

Officers saw the defendant in an ambulance and she admitted she had been driving and claimed to police the accident happened when she “swerved to avoid another vehicle”.

The defendant had given a preliminary breath sample of 101 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath – the legal limit is 35 micrograms.

When she gave an evidential sample – that which is relied upon in court – she had a reading of 66 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath.

Defence solicitor Fergus McIntosh said the defendant lives alone in Portballintrae and has two children at boarding school in Belfast.

The court heard the defendant’s marriage ended around eight years ago and she was on anti-depressants.

District Judge Bonita Boyd said a letter of reference handed to the court indicated alcohol also seemed to be an issue with the defendant.

The judge said a pre-sentence report would be beneficial to “see what is going on”.

The defendant was given an interim driving ban and the case was adjourned to March 23.

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