Threat of jail hanging over drink driving farmer

A man with numerous road traffic convictions was before Castlebar District Court this week for a drink driving charge and for not having insurance, tax, or an NCT.

Gardaí observed a van being driven erratically at Ballyvary on April 21 2012 at 2.35am. William Knight, Rinaneel, Ballyglass, was arrested for drink driving and provided a blood specimen which showed 210mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

The court heard that Knight had 15 previous road traffic convictions. Some of these convictions were read out in court—at Belmullet District Court on July 11 2012 he was disqualified from driving for six years for a drink driving conviction; in Westport District Court on June 7 2012 he was disqualified from driving for four years for not having insurance; and in Castlebar District Court in May 2009 he was disqualified from driving for one year for not having insurance.

Knight, who represented himself, was asked by Judge Mary Devins if he wanted to say anything, to which he replied “no”. Judge Devins said to him : “I’m afraid I’m sending you to prison” because of the “blatant breach of laws of the land for so long.” Knight said that he was sorry, however the judge said it “doesn’t cut the mustard”. The judge said to the defendant that he was ignoring the gardaí, the law, and court orders and told him to talk to a solicitor and put the case back for second calling.

Solicitor Cathy McDarby said that the 59-year-old single farmer could not get a quote for insurance when he told insurance companies about his previous convictions. Ms McDarby said that her client does not want to go to jail “as in this climate he is terrified that someone will break into his house” when he is away. Knight has not driven since last summer and told the court that he gets around by taxis and also cycles.

Judge Devins asked the defendant if he was prepared to give an undertaking not to drive, which he said he would. The judge adjourned the case for a probation report to June 5 but warned Knight, “it does not mean that you are not going to prison, I haven’t decided yet.”

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