Belfast Telegraph

DUP councillor Thomas Hogg admits drink-driving in 'act of kindness'

By Alan Erwin

A Democratic Unionist Party councillor has admitted to drink-driving and been disqualified from driving for 12 months.

Former Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Thomas Hogg got behind the wheel in an "act of kindness" to help a stranded friend, his lawyer said.

Councillor Hogg was also fined £250 after pleading guilty to driving with excess alcohol at his first appearance before Belfast Magistrates' Court on Friday.

The 30-year-old was stopped by police on the city's Crumlin Road on April 29 this year.

A prosecution lawyer said officers had noticed his car weaving over the road. A breath sample showed he was more than two times over the legal limit.

Dressed in a suit, the DUP representative, of Brae Hill Park in Belfast, stood head bowed in the dock as the charge was accepted.

Defence solicitor Keith Gamble said his client feels "shame and remorse" over his actions.

Mr Gamble told the court Hogg had been drinking at a barbeque before going to bed.

"A few hours later he got a phone call from a friend in some level of distress, saying they were stranded in town, couldn't get a taxi and were concerned about their safety," the lawyer said.

Hogg then decided to get into his car to pick his friend up, with the court told he initially felt groggy from sleep.

Mr Gamble contended that "what had otherwise been an act of kindness" ended with the drink driving charge.

He stressed the defendant had not travelled far before coming to police attention.

Elected as a DUP councillor in 2011, Hogg served as Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey for two consecutive years from 2014.

In 2016 he was awarded an MBE for services to local government.

Mr Gamble acknowledged: "He's had to face up to this in another arena than this court.

"This is not in any way within the normal scope of his character.

"He's a gentleman one would have expected to have gone through life completely unfamiliar with the court process."

Following submissions District Judge Fiona Bagnall imposed the 12-month driving ban, fine and a £15 offender levy.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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