Serial drink driver avoids jail sentence

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Police promoting safety messages at Guildhall Walk in Portsmouth

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A SERIAL drink driver has avoided jail despite being convicted of the offence for the fifth time.

Matthew O’Neill, from Emsworth, was given a suspended prison sentence and was disqualified for five years after the incident on October 4.

The 41-year-old bar steward was stopped in his Land Rover Freelander yards from his home in Sadlers Walk after police were sent a tip-off that he might be driving under the influence.

After failing a police roadside breath test he was arrested and remanded in custody due to his history of reoffending.

The next day he pleaded guilty to driving with 73mg of alcohol per 100ml of breath in his system – more than twice the legal limit of 35mg.

He was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months.

O’Neill was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £85 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.

PC Tom Van Der Wee, the arresting officer, said: ‘It’s alarming that O’Neill has clearly not learnt from his previous mistakes.

‘This is the third time in the past 10 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.

He added: ‘We will also actively target repeat offenders and do all we can to take them off the road.’