Addict high on heroin who rolled speeding car avoids a jail term
Needles and drug paraphernalia were found scattered across a road after an addict high on heroin crashed her car.
Lynda Victoria Louise McDonald (38) was speeding on the Lisnevenagh Road dual-carriageway between Ballymena and Antrim on August 15 this year when she crashed.
Her car rolled a number of times before coming to a halt.
A judge told the defendant - who was discovered hanging out of the vehicle - that if it had turned over just one more time she would have been certainly killed.
At Ballymena Magistrates Court yesterday McDonald, of Birch Hill Meadows in Antrim town, pleaded guilty to driving while unfit due to drugs. A dangerous driving charge was withdrawn.
A prosecutor said witnesses saw McDonald drive at speed at the Seven Towers roundabout at the Ballymena end of the dual-carriageway.
The defendant was taken to hospital by ambulance.
Needles and drugs paraphernalia, which had been in the car, were lying on the road, the prosecutor said.
At Antrim Area Hospital a blood sample was taken which showed up heroin and diazepam, and the defendant admitted to police she had taken heroin before driving.
Defence barrister Ben Thompson said such cases "come into sharp focus" particularly at this time of the year and it illustrated the tragedy that could come from such incidents.
He said McDonald was battling a heroin addiction, had an "isolated lapse" and had taken a decision to drive. The lawyer said the defendant has been detoxed and is engaging with an addiction programme.
District Judge Peter King said the dangers of drink-driving were well-known, but for someone to get behind the wheel after taking heroin you had to "multiply that by a factor of 10".
He told McDonald she could have killed someone or herself and said she was fortunate prosecutors were not proceeding with a dangerous driving charge.
The judge also told the defendant: "You were found hanging out of the car. Another roll and you would have been dead."
He imposed a two-month jail term, suspended for two years, and banned her from the road for four years saying he did so to "protect the public".