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Drink-drive receptionist who crashed into parked car in Ballymena is banned

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A judge said it was fortunate that Michelle Neeson had not hit a pedestrian (stock photo)

A judge said it was fortunate that Michelle Neeson had not hit a pedestrian (stock photo)

A judge said it was fortunate that Michelle Neeson had not hit a pedestrian (stock photo)

A Co Antrim centre receptionist with a high alcohol reading crashed into a vehicle in the car park on her way to work, a court heard.

A judge said it was fortunate that Michelle Neeson had not hit a pedestrian.

Neeson was detected at Ballymena Health and Care Centre on December 5 last year, the town's magistrates court was told yesterday.

A prosecutor said Neeson (44), of Eaton Fields in Ballymena, had an evidential reading of 137 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath - the legal limit is 35 micrograms. The defendant initially gave a preliminary reading of 167 micrograms.

Previously she pleaded guilty to a charge of driving with excess alcohol in her breath.

At the earlier court, District Judge Nigel Broderick said that he was adjourning the case for a report so he could "consider all options".

At court yesterday a prosecutor said before police arrived at the scene the defendant was with staff who believed she was intoxicated.

The court heard the defendant had made attempts to park and hit another vehicle. When interviewed she told police she had been going to work and had a glass and a half of wine that morning after drinking the night before.

A defence solicitor said the defendant had a "very responsible job" and had expressed "shame" at her actions.

Judge Broderick said it was "extremely dangerous" for anyone to be behind the wheel of a car when so intoxicated.

He said: "In some ways you are fortunate only to have hit another parked car."

The judge acknowledged she had a previous clear record but said the courts had to "send a very clear message especially when the reading is so high".

He banned the defendant from driving for 20 months and she will have to re-sit her test if she wants to get back on the road.

She was also ordered to do 80 hours of community service.

Judge Broderick certified the defendant for the drink driver course which he said was "important in terms of protecting the public in the future". He said if that course is completed, the disqualification period would be reduced by a quarter.

Belfast Telegraph