Drink driver ‘wanted to kill herself’

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A drink driver was planning to kill herself by crashing into a wall, a court has heard.

Frances O’Neill was stopped when friends blocked her route as she drove down a south Belfast street.

The 21-year-old student social worker was banned from driving for 18 months and fined £250 after admitting to driving with excess alcohol.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard police found her behind the wheel of a car in an hysterical state at Wellesley Avenue on May 18.

She said she wanted to kill herself by driving into a wall.

O’Neill, of Loughview Gardens in Coalisland, Co Tyrone, had intended to contest the charge before entering a guilty plea on Thursday.

Her lawyer accepted there was little prospect of a successful defence in a case he described as unlike the vast majority of drink-driving incidents.

He told the court his client had taken alcohol while out with friends in the city – triggering depression and suicidal thinking linked to ongoing mental health issues.

O’Neill was not thinking rationally and acted foolishly when she decided on the attempt on her own life, the lawyer stressed.

He added: “Fortunately her friends intervened very shortly down the road, blocked her path and took her keys.

“It (the car) was only driven a number of metres on the street.”

District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told that as well as her own college studies, O’Neill is doing voluntary work with counselling organisations.

But O’Neill was denied full credit for the guilty plea because it came late in the case.

Imposing the fine and 18-month disqualification, Judge Bagnall said: “She didn’t help herself by listing this for contest.”