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Motorist discovered asleep at the wheel after three-vehicle crash in Belfast banned from driving

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A motorist discovered asleep at the wheel of his car after a three-vehicle collision in Belfast has been banned from driving for 18 months.

Andrew Sharkie was going through the break-up of a relationship and on strong medication when the accident occurred, a judge was told.

The 34-year-old warehouse operator, of Killagan Bend in the city, admitted dangerous driving and driving when unfit through drink or drugs.

Belfast Magistrates' Court heard police were called to the scene of the collision at the Knock dual carriageway on July 24 last year.

A Hyundai car had struck the rear of a Vauxhall Astra, pushing it into the back of a Mercedes waiting to turn onto the Cregagh Road.

No-one was injured, but Sharkie was identified in the driver's seat of the Hyundai when officers arrived.

Prosecutor Mark O'Connor said: "He appeared to be asleep and it took police several verbal commands to wake him up.

"He was asked if he was hurt, to which he replied 'No, I just had some beers with a friend and parked here to sober up'."

Despite his slurred speech, glazed eyes and confusion, a preliminary breath test identified no alcohol.

A member of the public then informed police they had witnessed the Hyundai travelling erratically for about a mile up to the point of the collision.

Blood samples taken from Sharkie confirmed the presence of medication related to Xanax but much more potent, Mr O'Connor added.

Defence lawyer Caroline McCammon told the court he was breaking up with his long-term partner at the time.

"He obtained these pills in the hope they would help him sleep at night," she said.

"He had absolutely no idea what side effects these would have on him and his driving ability the next morning. He's really thankful no-one was injured."

Stressing her client's remorse and embarrassment, Ms McCammon added: "This was a momentary decision which he won't repeat."

Judge Liam McStay acknowledged Sharkie's previous clear record, but said: "This is a very serious incident and could have had tragic consequences for him or for anyone else on the road.

"He must have aware that he was under the influence and should have made the decision to find other means to travel."

Disqualifying Sharkie for 18 months and imposing £450 in fines, Mr McStay warned him: "If you do drive and are detected you will be liable to a sentence of imprisonment."

Belfast Telegraph


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