Emsworth drink-driver caught for a fifth time avoids jail

A serial drink-driver has been spared jail after being convicted of the offence for the fifth time, police said.

Friday, 6th October 2017, 5:36 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:29 pm
Police SUS-150806-131448001

Matthew O’Neill has been disqualified from driving for five years after he was caught twice over the limit near his home in Emsworth.

The 41-year-old bar steward was stopped in his Land Rover Freelander just yards from his home in Sadlers Walk after police received a tip-off that he may be driving under the influence, Sussex Police said.

Police said after failing a roadside breath test shortly before 6pm on Wednesday, October 4, he was arrested and remanded in custody due to his history of offending.

At Crawley Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, October 5, he pleaded guilty to driving with 73mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath in his system. The legal limit is 35mcg.

He was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, and disqualified for five years.

He was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work, and pay £85 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.

PC Van Der Wee of the Chichester Response Unit said: “It’s alarming that O’Neill has clearly not learnt from his previous mistakes – this is the third time in the past ten years he has been convicted of drink-driving, and the fifth time overall.

“His selfish behaviour not only put his own life at risk, but other road users too – particularly at such a busy time of day.

“The fact this is the fifth time he has been brought before the courts for this type of offence highlights his blatant disregard for the law.

“Sussex Police will not tolerate drink or drug-driving, and officers will respond robustly to reports of this nature.

“We will also actively target repeat offenders and do all we can to take them off the road.

“O’Neill admitted he had been drinking but insisted he would be under the legal limit, when in fact he was more than twice the legal limit.

“He was swiftly dealt with by magistrates, and I’d like to thank the member of the public who reported him for bringing this dangerous individual to our attention.”

People in Sussex can text officers on 65999 with the details of people they suspect of drink or drug-driving, or visit the Operation Crackdown website.

People can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or report it online.

Police advise anyone who knows someone is driving while over the limit or after taking drugs, to call 999.

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