Belfast Telegraph

Jail and lifetime driving ban for Belfast criminal with 276 previous convictions

By Lesley Houston

A career criminal with more than 276 previous convictions has been given a lifetime driving ban by a judge who branded his driving record the worst he had ever seen.

It was Emmanuel Martin Tully's second court appearance in four days, after another judge described him on Monday as "a menace to society".

At the latest hearing he was jailed for 10 months after racking up 17 convictions for drink-driving when he appeared before Ards Magistrates Court yesterday.

The 49-year-old, from Gortfin Street in Belfast, appeared via video-link from Maghaberry Prison and the court learned he had previously received a 10-year ban for drink-driving.

He was charged with driving while disqualified - following the previous drink-driving offences - and driving without insurance, receiving concurrent five-month prison sentences for each. Both sentences were accompanied by a lifetime driving ban.

District Judge Mark Hamill imposed a further lifetime driving ban and five-month prison sentence for driving while unfit through drink or drugs - to run consecutively - giving him a total of 10 months in jail.

The sentences related to the manner of his driving at Belvoir Road in Belfast on July 1, 2014.

Counsel for Tully said there had been a gap of a number of years between his 10-year driving ban and reoffending, showing "there has been some restraint and compliance" with the ban.

He added that Tully had suffered issues in his personal life, particularly when his grandson was knocked down in a tragic accident by a reversing car driven by a family member, landing the child in intensive care.

But stating "this is the worst record I have ever seen", Mr Hamill noted that Tully's record also had several convictions for dangerous driving.

He said "I don't have the energy" to count how many and said "he is uninsurable".

And he asked: "Can you imagine the public outcry if this man killed someone whilst drink-driving or driving dangerously and the Press reported his record?

"Can you imagine the outcry?" he reiterated. "He should have been given a substantive prison sentence 20 years ago."

The judge expressed concern that Tully's case had been brought before a Magistrates Court, where the maximum sentence for dangerous driving was six months, in contrast to the maximum of 10 years at Crown Court.

"I will not tolerate seeing this man again for drink-driving at this level," he said.

The judge continued by insisting the directing PSNI officer in charge of the case be asked why Tully's case hadn't been brought before the higher court. On Monday Tully was jailed for 15 months for his part in a shoplifting spree in December 2013.

Judge Piers Grant QC said on Monday that after hearing "eloquent pleas" it was clear that Tully had learned "absolutely nothing" from his previous offending, and continued with his lifestyle choices, leaving others to pick up the pieces.

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