“Highest reading ever” avoids jail sentence for now

A man pleading guilty to “the highest reading I have ever seen” according to the judge in the District Court this week (October 7 ), will have to wait until January to see if he is to get a jail sentence or a community service order to accompany a six-year driving ban.

The court had earlier been told how, after his arrest, Francis Cox (45 ) of Derryfeakle, Rooskey, Co Roscommon had produced an intoxiliser reading of 140 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, exactly four times the legal limit, after being stopped at Westlodge, Athlone on June 7.

Inspector Nicholas Farrell said that Cox had two similar previous convictions, the most recent from Strokestown District Court in May, when he was banned for three years for failing to provide a specimen.

As his solicitor, Mr Padraig Quinn, stood to defend Cox, Judge Patrick Clyne warned him: “Mr Quinn, graves are normally six feet deep. Try not to dig this one 12 feet deep”.

“Mr Cox doesn’t seek to diminish this,” Mr Quinn acknowledged, before going on to say how Cox was a single, unemployed man on €197 a week, and that he had disposed of the car.

“Mr Quinn, on June 7 this year he produced a reading of 140/100. How much had he consumed if he’s living off half nothing?” asked Judge Clyne.

“It was a family do, all day, he started at lunch,” said Mr Quinn.

“How long was the day? 72 hours? Did he have Baileys on his cornflakes? This is the highest reading I have ever seen. How did he even get the key in the door of the car?” enquired an incredulous Judge Clyne.

“There is no justification, judge,” said Mr Quinn.

Gesturing to the probation officer, Judge Clyne told Mr Quinn he was thinking about imposing a community service order on Cox.

“But I’ve got to make sure he doesn’t have a tincture over his porridge,” added the judge.

“The [probation] officer must confirm this. There is also going to be a massive disqualification.”

The judge told Mr Quinn he was considering 200 hours community service in lieu of a four month prison sentence, and remanded Cox on continuing bail until January 26 to arrange this through the Welfare and Probation Service.

He also said he was seeking to impose a six year driving ban, but couldn’t impose this until all penalties were finalised.

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