Former lifeguard was three times over legal driving limit

A former lifeguard was so drunk he had difficulty even getting himself into his car during a trip to a north coast Tesco and police received two calls - one from the store manager and another from a concerned shopper.

Damien McAuley (39), a carpenter of Old Mill Grange, Portstewart, had an alcohol/breath reading of 119 which was almost three-and-a-half times the legal limit of 35, Coleraine Magistrates Court heard on Monday.

Imposing a four months jail term, suspended for 18 months, along with a driving ban for 18 months, District Judge Liam McNally said it was an “extremely high reading”.

The judge said anyone encountering McAuley on the road would have been in danger and in fact his condition was so bad people rang police in a bid to prevent anything happening.

McAuley had driven off from the store in Portstewart during the May 31 incident and police later called found him at his home.

In court he pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol in his breath.

Defence solicitor Denise Gillan said the defendant had been at a bbq the night before and had consumed a large amount of beer and wine and had taken some more drink after arriving back from the shop but she accepted he would have been still well over the limit when he left the store.

She said McAuley had no idea of the level of alcohol in his system and the reading shocked him.