Repeat drink driver left pub in afternoon before smashing into rear of schoolbus containing 20 children near Portglenone but ‘by the grace of God’ there were no injuries

ColeraineCourt9 - Edited

A repeat drink driver who left a pub in the afternoon to go home smashed into the rear of a school bus carrying twenty children but “by the grace of God” there were no injuries, a court heard.

Andrew John Close (37), of Beechland Drive in Clady near Portglenone, admitted charges of dangerous driving and driving with excess alcohol in his breath, following the crash at at Largy Road at 4.45pm on February 2 this year.

Thursday’s sitting of Ballymena Magistrates Court was told damage was caused to the front of Close’s Peugeot car and to the rear of a Translink bus being operated as a schoolbus carrying 20 schoolchildren but there were no reports of any injuries.

Close had a reading of 84 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit is 35mcgs.

A prosecutor said the defendant told police he had being doing around 60mph when he looked down after hearing a warning beep from his car and hadn’t noticed the bus.

Defence solicitor Garret McCann said on the day in question his client had been in a pub in the Randalstown area and “made the foolish decision to drive home”.

The lawyer said there was a “mechanical fault” in the car and it was “by the grace of God” nobody was injured.

References regarding Close were handed in to the court.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said it was the fourth time Close had been in a vehicle with excess alcohol taken and the fact there was a collision and an “element of dangerous driving involved” had not helped matters.

However, he said Close being in employment and his guilty plea meant he was not going to send him to prison.

The judge imposed a three months jail sentence, suspended for 18 months, and a three year driving ban and Close will have to re-sit his driving test before getting back on the road.

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