Police helicopter tracked drugged-up driver who was wearing only boxer shorts

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A PSNI helicopter tracked a drugged-up dangerous driver - who was wearing only boxer shorts - after he sped off from the scene of a collision in a supermarket car park in a north coast seaside resort on a road rampage at the start of the school summer holidays.

At Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday Kenneth Samuel Murphy was given a four-months jail term, suspended for a year; a one-year driving ban and was fined £225.

The 49-year-old, whose address was given as Abbeydale in Londonderry, was previously found guilty of dangerous driving; driving whilst unfit; driving whilst disqualified; failing to report an accident and absence of insurance for a Rover car in relation to an incident which began at the Tesco supermarket in Portstewart.

District Judge Liam McNally previously dismissed charges of failing to remain, stop and report following an accident.

A prosecutor said the incident dated back to July 2, 2011, after police received a report of a road traffic collision in the Tesco car park at 8.55pm.

A witness reported that the vehicle was being driven by a male who seemed to be under the influence and who appeared to be “wearing only boxer shorts”.

The driver sped off from the scene and, an earlier hearing was told, “police air support” saw the vehicle being driven “erratically” through Portstewart, striking kerbs.

Police then saw Murphy in the front garden of an address at Lever Road, Portstewart, “wearing only boxer shorts”.

Substantial damage had been caused to the vehicle. Drugs, including Diazepam, were detected in a blood sample, the court was told.

The defendant was arrested and during a first interview he said he could not recall the incident but during a second interview he said he had been banned from driving previously at Coleraine Court.

Monday’s court was told the Portstewart offences happened just months after Murphy was given a three-year driving ban in March 2011.

After convicting Murphy in his absence earlier this month, Judge McNally ordered an arrest warrant to be issued.

Defence solicitor Don Mahoney said after learning of the arrest warrant his client had presented himself to the authorities.

The lawyer said the offences happened seven years ago and Murphy was unaware of the case, believing all matters he had been facing, had been dealt with.

Mr Mahoney said his client had dozens of previous convictions but is now a carer for his elderly mother and “really has done a very good job to stay out of trouble” in recent years.

District Judge Liam McNally said: “It is like the old saying, ‘your past will always come back to haunt you’.” and Mr Mahoney said: “In this case it has”.