A banned driver who was caught drunk behind the wheel of a car while out on licence for other motoring offences has been handed a 12-month sentence.
Martin Peacock – who appeared at Belfast Crown Court with 34 previous convictions for road traffic offences – was also disqualified from driving for 10 years.
Peacock, 33, from Leven Drive, Tullycarnet, was jailed following an incident in Belfast on June 28 last year.
Crown prosecutor Gareth Purvis told the court the circumstances were “bizarre” and involved police being alerted to a silver Ford Mondeo which had been involved in a hit-and-run on the Shankill Road.
Police saw the vehicle a short time later on the nearby Crumlin Road, and officers witnessed the car stopping and the driver getting out of the car and swapping seats with the passenger.
Revealing that the swap involved Peacock and his cousin, when the Mondeo pulled off again, police noticed it was being driven erratically. The car was stopped close to Millfield Tech, and behind the wheel following the swap was Peacock, who was “heavily intoxicated”.
He failed a breath test and was found be be driving in excess of the legal limit.
Mr Purvis said that when caught last June, Peacock was a disqualified driver, had only been released from prison five weeks before and was on licence for a prior motoring offence.
Defence barrister Tim Jebb said his client was a man who experienced a “difficult upbringing” and who also had issues with alcohol and drug misuse.
Saying Peacock’s offending last June was both “foolhardy” and “lacking in foresight”, Mr Jebb pointed out that his client was not driving when the vehicle was involved in the hit-and-run prior to being stopped by police.
Mr Jebb said it was a “spur of the moment” decision that led to Peacock driving, which he accepted was “clearly not the right thing to do”.
Handing Peacock a one-year sentence – which will be split between six months in custody and six months on licence – Her Honour Judge McCaffrey told Peacock that his decision to drive while a disqualified driver showed a “lack of recognition” for both the courts and the law.