Northern Ireland news

Owner of petrol station hit by ATM thieves over the limit

The scene at a filling station on the Ballygawley Road, Dungannon. Picture by Ann McManus.

The owner of County Tyrone petrol station targeted by ATM thieves was found to be over the legal alcohol limit after driving to the scene when she heard the alert.

Dungannon Magistrates Court heard police waiting at the premises detected the owner as she arrived on her own forecourt.

Jacqueline Curran Hughes (54) from Gortlenaghan Road, Dungannon pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol.

A digger, believed to have been stolen from business premises, had been used to rip out the ATM of Cabragh Filling Station, just after 4am on March 10.

Significant damage was caused to the building, and the digger was torched at the scene.

The ATM had been loaded onto a trailer and driven away.

Police contacted Hughes who, distressed, consumed alcohol to “settle her nerves”.

She later received a second call to say the premises had been cleared and could be opened for business.

Police waited at the scene and observed Hughes drive a BMW onto the forecourt.

Whilst speaking to her, officers noted an odour of alcohol after which she was arrested and taken to Dungannon Custody Suite.

An evidential specimen of breath returned a reading of 59mcg of alcohol, 24mcg in excess of the limit.

A defence solicitor told the court his client fully accepted the charge which had come about “after very unfortunate circumstances.”

He added Hughes has a previously clear record and co-operated fully with police.

District Judge Stephen Keown imposed a fine of £200 and disqualified driving for 12 months, to be reduced by 25 percent on completion of a drink-driver course.

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