Three times over limit Coleraine drink-driver who fled crash scene avoids prison
A judge said he had to send out a strong warning in the run-up to Christmas that drink-driving will not be tolerated as he banned a motorist from the roads for two-and-a-half-years.
District Judge Peter King was speaking at Coleraine Magistrates Court yesterday as he sentenced Sebastian Domagalski (41), of Avonbrook Gardens in the town.
Judge King said a preliminary sample of 135 microgrammes blown by the defendant was one of the highest ever before the court.
The legal limit is 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath.
A prosecutor said that on November 12 this year a parked car had been struck and members of the public said a Saab was abandoned in the middle of the road and the driver ran off, but he was detained after police arrived and gave chase.
Domagalski pleaded guilty to a number of charges including driving with excess alcohol, absence of licence and insurance, failing to report an accident, and failing to remain at the scene of an accident.
Defence barrister Dean Mooney said his client, originally from Poland, "clearly had no business getting behind the wheel of a car".
He said Domagalski, a labourer, had bought the car for £500 to sell on but found out it was not roadworthy and he was moving it a short distance to be taken away for scrap.
The defendant told police he had not reported the accident because of his "lack of English".
Judge King said: "Two weeks from Christmas the court has to send out an extremely strong message that drink-driving cannot to tolerated, especially at this gross level."
The judge said aggravating features in the case involved the lack of a licence and insurance and the necessity for police to pursue the defendant to apprehend him.
Against that, said Judge King, there was a plea of guilty and lack of a record.
He imposed a two-month jail term, suspended for 30 months, and banned the defendant for 30 months, along with fines totalling £500.