Hotel guest with drink taken had suitcase and keys and told police he was going to vehicle

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A hotel guest with drink taken who had a suitcase in one hand and car keys in the other at 3am told police he was going to his vehicle and in court he pleaded guilty to being in charge of a vehicle whilst unfit.

Gareth Steel (38), a team leader in a soft drinks factory, of Ard na Maine in Cullybackey, had been at the Leighinmohr House Hotel in Ballymena on October 24 this year.

A prosecutor told Ballymena Magistrates Court on November 22 that police were tasked to the hotel where Steel and a female were intoxicated.

At one stage police saw Steel with the suitcase and keys and he said he was going to his car and when arrested he began shouting and swearing in the foyer.

Defence barrister Stephen Law said Steel and his girlfriend had consumed alcohol and an argument had arisen which led to staff contacting police.

Mr Law said the girlfriend was to go home and Steel was going to stay in the hotel on his own but then changed his mind.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said it was fortunate the police were present to stop the defendant driving.

Mr Law said that initially police gave Steel a “fool’s pardon” and told him to return to his room but warned that if he set foot outside the hotel he would be arrested.

Mr Law said his client was then arrested when he went to leave again.

The lawyer said Steel had been intending to walk home to Cullybackey.

Judge Broderick said he was satisfied the defendant had not been driving but it was a “classic” case of being ‘in-charge’.

The defendant was given ten penalty points and fined £350 after admitting charges of being in charge of a vehicle whilst unfit and disorderly behaviour.

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