Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Professor Gerry McKenna: to appear in court next week

Former university chief admits drink-drive guilt

BY CLAIRE REGAN

BY CLAIRE REGAN

IN COLERAINE





FORMER University of Ulster Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerry McKenna has pleaded guilty to drink-driving, a court was told today.

The retired academic, who stood down from the vice-chancellor's post in the wake of a damning investigation into his conduct last May, was due to appear at North Antrim Magistrate's Court today to contest a charge of driving while unfit through drink or drugs.

The charge arose when he was stopped by police in Coleraine on July 14 last year.

While McKenna did not appear in person this morning, the hearing was told that the 52-year-old former president would instead be pleading guilty.

The case was adjourned until next Wednesday after it emerged that McKenna could be offered a place on a probation board course for drink-driving offenders. That nine-week course would lead to a 25% reduction in his minimum disqualification period of 12 months.

RM Austin Kennedy pointed out that McKenna needed to appear before the court in person if he wished to avail of this course of action.

His solicitor said his client did not realise he had to appear in person and agreed for the matter to be adjourned until Wednesday.

McKenna was stopped by police just two weeks after the Belfast Telegraph revealed the details of a high level investigation into his conduct which found evidence to support a number of allegations against him - including one that he had been impaired by alcohol at several official meetings.

The Buckley Report also concluded that he had a case to answer regarding allegations of lax financial controls and harsh treatment of staff.

McKenna retired at the end of February and moved out of the university's residence on Mountsandel Road in Coleraine.

McKenna was living at that address at the time the drink-drive charge arose. The court did not have his new address registered.

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