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Drink-driver to appeal conviction on grounds e-cig put him over limit

By Nevin Farrell

Published 16/09/2016

Claim: Aaron Galbraith
Claim: Aaron Galbraith

A Ballymena man who unsuccessfully tried to convince a judge that vaping an e-cigarette put him over the drink-drive limit is to appeal his conviction.

Earlier this month a court rejected what is believed to have been the first attempted defence of its kind in the UK - that alcohol in an e-cigarette caused a police Breathalyser machine to indicate someone was almost twice the alcohol limit.

Aaron Galbraith, a 35-year-old chef from Dunluce Park, was convicted of the offence.

It was his second drink-driving conviction, and he was banned from the road for three years and fined £300.

Yesterday his solicitor Stewart Ballentine returned to Ballymena Magistrates Court and lodged an appeal.

He said "new scientific evidence" will be brought to the Appeal Court.

District Judge Peter King noted the "unique nature" of the case and fixed bail of £250 to allow Galbraith, who is getting legal aid, to appeal.

After the September 1 case Galbraith said he would continue to vape rather than go back on cigarettes.

Speaking to the Press outside the court, he claimed he had not been drinking, and that he only consumed alcohol four times a year.

He said he had been vaping a short time before being pulled over by police and asked to take the Breathalyser test.

Galbraith claimed because he had a previous drink-driving offence from 10 years ago, it meant he never again would have got behind the wheel after consuming drink.

His defence team brought in a scientist who claimed it was possible the contents of the e-cig put Galbraith over the limit.

District Judge Des Perry said at the time that although he was not discarding the evidence given in court by the expert witness - a private consultant in analytical measurement science - nothing he had put forward cast any doubt on the findings of the police, who noted Galbraith was unsteady and slurring his speech at the roadside.

Judge Perry added he was not dismissing the expert's conclusions, but added he was "inclined to take the view that the possibility of e-cigarettes causing anything of this nature is remote in the extreme" and therefore the driving with excess alcohol in breath charge was proven.

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