‘Stoned’ driver avoids jail

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Police saw a car swerving over white lines in Coleraine and a motorist, who had a young child in the front with him, admitted he was “stoned” on cannabis.

Michael Mateusz Skiba (35), of Bath Street, Portrush, was detected driving a Honda Accord at Coleraine’s Lodge Road Roundabout on October 13 last year.

A prosecutor told Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday when police approached the vehicle a young child was a passenger in the front seat.

There was a strong smell of cannabis in the vehicle and Skiba handed over a partly smoked joint.

£150 worth of cannabis was found during a subsequent search of his home.

A blood sample showed cannabis, amphetamines and Ecstasy.

Skiba told police he had taken cannabis and felt “stoned” when diving.

Defence solicitor Briege Martin said Skiba has been living in Northern Ireland for 12 years and is a regular cannabis user and the drugs were for his own use.

She said Skiba, a part-time chef, had taken some of the joint “prior to driving” a short distance to pick up his fiancee.

Ms Martin said the defendant regretted what he had done and had shown the utmost remorse and he accepted what he had done was extremely foolish and dangerous.

Skiba pleaded guilty to charges of driving whilst unfit through drugs; two charges of possessing herbal cannabis; failing to display L plates and being on the road without a qualified supervising driver.

He was given four months in jail, suspended for two years; banned from driving for two years and fined £150.

District Judge Liam McNally told Skiba he came very close to being jailed but he had to take into account the early guilty plea and no similar driving whilst unfit record.