Ex-soccer star was three times over limit

Court
Court

A 1970s star with Coleraine FC was spotted driving at “5mph” through the town last month and when police arrived they found he was more than three times the drink limit.

Kenny McCandless (66) of Willowfield Park, Coleraine, appeared in the dock at the town’s Magistrates Court and admitted offences including driving with excess driving and dangerous driving.

His defence solicitor Denise Gillan said her client had no criminal record and had been driving for almost half a century without incident.

She said he was “absolutely mortified” by what he had done and wished to apologise.

A prosecutor said at 10.50pm on April 19 police received a report from a member of the public that they had observed a man, unsteady on his feet, getting into a car and driving off.

The car mounted kerbs and collided with a van leaving a wing mirror behind.

The defendant had a reading of 106 with the legal limit being 35. Ms Gillan said her client had never been in court and the retired credit company manager had been driving blemish free for almost 50 years.

She said every week her client’s wife goes out shopping and McCandless decided to drive to Coleraine Station and go up to Belfast and have a surprise lunch with his daughter.

However, after his daughter was unable to attend he went to a few pubs in Belfast before getting public transport back to Coleraine.

Instead of walking home, Ms Gillan said McCandless intended to get a taxi but when he “spied” his car he got behind the wheel.

The judge said such a reading was, in many circumstances, “quite unforgivable” but said he had to balance that with it being the defendant’s first mistake in nearly 50 years. McCandless had pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol; dangerous driving; and failing to remain at the scene and report an accident and was banned from driving for 18 months and fined a total of £800.

Ms Gillan said a witness said McCandless was driving at “5mph”. She added that when caught her client admitted the offence straight away and “didn’t try the old hip flask defence”.

She said the defendant was “absolutely mortified” and wished to apologise to the court and police and he was “thankful nobody was hurt” by his driving and he had “learned his lesson”.

She said he has now applied to do charity work.

District Judge Liam McNally said in light of the high reading he had been considering a suspended sentence but he had to factor in the clear record.

He believed McCandless appreciated the risk he posed to other people by driving with a reading of 106.