A Sudanese man, who now lives in Sligo, was charged with careless driving after he encountered difficulty while driving in Derry’s “foreign surroundings”.
Andrew Mintah was arrested after running a red light on Victoria Street in the city on Sunday. He then stopped his car causing an obstruction to other traffic, the local court was told yesterday.
Mintah of Globe House, Chapel Hill, Sligo admitted careless driving.
The court was told police stopped the Dublin registered vehicle and the driver produced an Irish provisional/learner’s licence. No no ‘L’ plates were displayed on the vehicle.
Defence solicitor, Seamus Quigley, stated: “My client had never driven in the North before and should’ve displayed ‘L’ Plates but was unaware of the legislation.
“As he was unsure of the road signs he became anxious.” The court also heard that the PSNI had placed a note on Mintah’s file that “at no time did he endanger any person”.
Mr. Quigley said: “I think this man just panicked. He was hopelessly lost in an unfamiliar environment. We’ve all found ourselves driving in a foreign country and been unsure of our surroundings.
“The main cause for concern was that this man was driving far too slow. One of his difficulties is that he is unemployed and has 60 euro in his pocket so is unable to pay any fines.”
District Judge Barney McElholm said: “Well I have some sympathy for this case as I recently tried to drive around Newry. There are far too many roundabouts there.
“People in the Republic should be more careful when it comes to driving licences when they cross the border.”
Mintah was given a conditional discharge for two years.