‘Habitual drink driver’ in court after Guildhall crash

A 24 year-old Derry man who crashed into a wall at the Guildhall in the early hours of Wednesday morning has been described in court as a “habitual drink driver” with no concern for the law or the safety of others.

Stephen O’Kane, of Marlborough Street, is charged with driving whilst disqualified, dangerous driving and having no insurance on October 17th. He is further charged with driving with excess alcohol and assaulting and resisting police.

The court heard he been forced to leave the country recently because of a threat from a paramilitary group.

Derry Magistrates Court heard claims that O’Kane was the driver of a Lexus car that crashed into the wall in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Substantial damage was caused to the car and when police arrived O’Kane had already been removed by emergency services. Two female passengers had to be taken to hospital for treatment.

It is alleged police received a call a short time later because O’Kane was causing a disturbance at the hospital. When officers arrived he allegedly became very aggressive, was clenching his fists and telling them to keep away.

He was arrested and it was claimed he attempted to kick police on a number of occasions.

During interview, O’Kane said he had absolutely no memory of the incident.

Opposing bail, an investigating officer told the court O’Kane breached bail last month when he failed to appear in court for other offences.

The officer said police also feared he would interfere with witnesses or reoffend.

She told the court O’Kane is a “habitual drink driver with no concern for the law or the safety of others”.

Defence solicitor Paddy MacDermott said his client had not appeared in court because he had left the country under threat from a paramilitary organisation.

He said because of the stress involved with this threat, O’Kane went out and got drunk when he came back to the city, instead of coming to court and getting the matters dealt with.

Mr MacDermott asked the court to “allow him an opportunity to be at liberty”.

Refusing bail, District Judge Barney McElholm said the 24 year-old is a “recidivist drink driver” who has “no care at all for other human beings”.

O’Kane was remanded in custody and will appear in court again via videolink on November 8.