Jail sentence for single mother caught driving for fourth time without insurance
A 26-year-old single mother of four has been jailed for four months for driving without insurance.
It is the fourth time that Laura Bratten, of Mountain Road, Lack, has been caught committing the offence.
She also admitted that she did not have a licence.
In addition to the jail sentence she was banned from driving for two years and fined £100.
District Judge John Meehan also ordering her to forfeit her Vauxhall Vectra.
She was released on £200 bail pending an appeal against the sentence.
A prosecutor told the court that at 1.20pm on October 16, last year, police stopped Bratten driving a Vauxhall Vectra on the Tirwinney Road at Lack. She said she had just bought the vehicle, although she subsequently told a probation officer that her father had bought it for her. The police discovered that she was not insured and did not have a licence.
Defence solicitor Tommy Owens said his instructions were that on the day in question Bratten's youngest daughter was feeling unwell and her grandmother had come to sit with her while her mother drove to Ederney to get Calpol.
"She wasn't acting in her own best interests but in the best interests of her child," said Mr. Owens.
He suggested the court's best option was to impose a further suspended jail sentence, adding that Bratten was concerned about the loss of her liberty and the impact that would have on her young family.
The District Judge told Bratten it was hard to give any weight to any of Mr. Owen's remarks.
He pointed out that she had a conviction for driving without insurance in 2005 and for driving without a licence and insurance in 2006 and came before the court for a third time in 2010 for driving without "L" plates, while unaccompanied and without insurance. On that occasion she was given a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and it would have been explained to her what would happen if she was caught again.
"It seems you have forced the court's hand," he told her, adding that the fact that she had four children left him with a dilemma as to what to do but the court's had to be prepared to back up what they told people when they gave them a final chance. She had ignored the warning and would continue to offend, believing that she would not be sent to prison.
He jailed her for three months and activated the four-month suspended sentence from 2010, saying that "as a matter of clemency" he would make the sentences run concurrently, giving a total of four months in prison.
This article appeared in Impartial Reporter 07 Jan 13