Fine for drunk father who wheeled baby in pram down busy road
A father who was so drunk he wheeled his baby son in an incorrectly assembled pram along the middle of a busy road, while cars swerved to avoid them, has walked free from court.
The Co Tyrone defendant, aged in his 30s but cannot be named to protect the child's identity, appeared before Dungannon Magistrates Court where a judge described the case as "disturbing".
Despite this, as Social Services are now "governing" contact between father and son, the judge opted to fine the defendant instead of jailing him. The accused accepted being drunk in charge of the child and a count of cruelty was withdrawn.
Members of the public reporting seeing two heavily intoxicated males, one of whom, the defendant, was pushing the baby in a pram in the middle of a busy street on July 23.
A number of cars were seen driving around the men and the seat of the pram was not properly attached to the frame. Both men were struggling to walk properly and at one point the defendant was so intoxicated he fell over the bonnet of a parked car.
Police traced the defendant to his Coalisland home, where it was ascertained the baby was his one-year-old son. A breath test showed a reading of 102mcg - the legal driving limit is 35mcg.
During interview, the defendant said he had been looking after the baby since 9am that day, and he and a friend took the child with them to the shops.
At some point they bought alcohol and the defendant accepted drinking a bottle of vodka, but he said he felt "tipsy, but not drunk". He admitted he should not have been intoxicated while in charge of the child, but initially denied walking on the road.
A defending lawyer accepted the case was "unusual and severe" and pointed out social services are now involved, adding: "Perhaps they should have been involved earlier."
He said the cruelty charge was withdrawn as no harm was caused to the child.
The day of the incident coincided with the anniversary of a family member's death, said the defence, pointing out this had caused his client some distress.
Imposing a £300 fine instead of prison, District Judge Michael Ranaghan said: "This primarily is because any further contact between you and the child will be governed by social services. That takes away the risk I feel you pose to the child."