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Judge tells Northern Ireland gravedigger to take wife's advice

By Nevin Farrell

A judge told a Co Antrim gravedigger, who was detected at almost four times the drink drive limit whilst sitting in a van in the car park of a GAA club, that he should listen to his wife and stay off the booze.

Judge Desmond Marrinan was speaking to James O'Boyle (40), from Carnamenagh Road in the Corkey area near Loughgiel, at Coleraine County Court yesterday.

O'Boyle accepted his conviction after he previously pleaded guilty at a magistrates court, but was contesting the sentence, which was one-year driving ban and a £250 fine.

Prosecutor Breige Gilmore told the court that on June 19 police received a call regarding a man believed to be drinking and then sleeping while in the driver's seat of a Transit van at a GAA clubhouse at Glenravel Road near Ballymena.

When he saw police approach O'Boyle got out, but admitted that he had been drinking and while securing the van officers found an open bottle of wine inside.

O'Boyle had an alcohol/breath reading of 123 micrograms and, with the legal limit being 35, Ms Gilmore said that was "almost four times the legal limit".

Defence barrister Francis Rafferty told the court yesterday that the defendant needed to be able to drive as he worked as a gravedigger and a caretaker with Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council.

At the time of the offence O'Boyle was "undergoing some difficulties" but is now "alcohol free", he said.

Mr Rafferty said the defendant had been sitting in the car park waiting for someone to pick him up and he had no intention of driving.

The lawyer said O'Boyle had a dispute with his wife and when she told him not to come home unless sober he decided to do the opposite.

He added: "Things are on a much more even keel now."

Mr Rafferty said that the loss of the licence meant his client would lose his job.

Judge Marrinan instead imposed 10 penalty points on O'Boyle for being in charge of a vehicle with excess alcohol in breath.

"I would not want to see anybody losing their job in the current economic climate," he said.

Regarding the circumstances of the offence about going home sober, the judge told O'Boyle: "Take your wife's advice."

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