Driver ‘gobsmacked’ to learn he was banned

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

A 30-year-old man was ‘gobsmacked’ when he discovered he had been disqualified from driving, a court has heard.

Kealan Toland, of Dunboyne Park in Eglinton, admitted driving while disqualified on July 6, this year.

Derry Magistrate’s Court heard that Toland was observed driving on the Clooney Road on that date.

Police checks revealed Toland had been disqualified from driving for six months on May 16.

Officers spoke to Toland and he said he was unaware that he was disqualified.

Defence solicitor Seamus Quigley said his client had not been in court on May 16, nor did he leave in his licence for penalty points to be endorsed, so he had been disqualified.

The solicitor said Toland had received a letter telling him he had been fined and there was a line in the letter ‘six months disqualification if applicable,’ which he had misunderstood.

Mr Quigley said that Toland had paid his fine and continued to drive.

The solicitor said that the letter should have been framed better to highlight the disqualification.

He asked the court to accept it was ‘an honest and stupid mistake.’

District Judge Barney McElholm said he would agree the letter could have been worded better, but he added that Toland should have paid more attention.

He disqualified him for a period of eight weeks and imposed a conditional discharge.

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