Drink driver ‘needed whiskey for his arthritis’

Enniskillen Court House, RMGFH03

Enniskillen Court House, RMGFH03

A 69-year-old mechanic who was found with a bottle of whiskey in his front passenger seat has been handed a suspended prison sentence after he was convicted of drink driving, Fermanagh court has heard.

Eric Alexander Coulter, of Castlemurray Drive, Ballinamallard, narrowly missed a pedestrian as he swerved his car before coming to a stop.  He was handed a three month prison sentence which was suspended for two years and banned from driving for two years.


A prosecutor explained that on January 7, this year, at around 5pm, police were called to the Makenny Road in Ballinamallard after they received a phone call that the driver of a vehicle was drunk.

Police spotted the car travelling towards Ballinamallard and followed behind it with its blue lights switched on. They saw him swerving and narrowly missing a pedestrian before coming to a stop.

Officers spoke with the driver who smelled of alcohol.

They also noticed a bottle of whiskey sitting in the front passenger seat.

Coulter failed a breath test and was arrested for excess alcohol. He was taken to Enniskillen Police Station where he gave a reading of 118mg in blood, some 38 mg over the limit. He was charged with driving with excess alcohol.

Defence solicitor Garry Smyth explained that his client suffered from arthritis and takes comfort from alcohol and that’s what happened on this occasion.

“That’s the reason why he is in court today,” he added.


“He knows he will be disqualified for a significant period. He does have a relevant driving record but it has been 14 years since a similar nature.”

District Judge Nigel Broderick described it as a serious matter.

He said: “Not only were you drunk in a vehicle but you narrowly missed the pedestrian. If you hit pedestrian and killed them you would be standing in front of a judge and jury. Thankfully no one was injured on this occasion.

“I’m satisfied it justifies a prison sentence but because of your ill health I won’t jail you.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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