Former Clogher Valley restaurant owner escapes jail sentence

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A local businessman with a history of motoring offences has escaped a jail sentence for driving with no insurance.

Alphonce Mndaweni, 44, from The Brook, Enniskillen appeared at Dungannon Magistrate’s court on Wednesday.

Mndaweni, who had owned a restaurant in Fivemiletown that is now closed, was caught driving with no insurance and without a valid driving licence at the Tamnmore junction of the M1 Motorway on February 9, shortly before midday.

The court heard that at the time of the offences, he produced a US driving licence, which had expired in 2003.

He admitted the offence of driving without insurance, and told officers that he was insured to drive another vehicle but that this one had broken down. Consequently, he had been forced to use the uninsured vehicle.

The court heard how Mndaweni had a history of driving without insurance.

Defence solicitor Jarlath Faloon explained that the defendant had owned a restaurant and got into financial difficulties. He had been forced to shut down the Fivemiletown business, and still owed money to some creditors.

Currently, he had no source of income, but was actively seeking employment, said the solicitor.

The judge told Mndaweni that he was giving him credit for pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity.

However, the judge said: “You do have a record, and it is not a good one.

“You must know by this stage that you cannot drive a vehicle without being specifically insured for it.”

In considering a suitable punishment, the judge said he was taking into account the fact that Mndaweni had not been driving carelessly or dangerously, and had not caused an accident.

“I don’t see that it’s necessary to take your liberty away from you”, said the judge, addressing the defendant directly.

“I want you to be in a legal position to drive as soon as possible.”

He also weighed up the possibility of a community service order, but told the defendant that he did not believe he needed probation.

The judge gave Mndaweni eight penalty points and fined him £200 for driving with no insurance, and a further £100 for driving without a valid driving license.

He also imposed the offender’s levy of £15.

After an application by the defence solicitor, the judge took into account the defendant’s straitened financial circumstances and the fact that he was currently out of work, and allowed the defendant twenty-six weeks to pay the fines, which was the maximum amount of time the court can allow for the payment of fines.

The solicitor also made an application for legal aid, which the judge granted.