A DISQUALIFIED driver who took his son’s car without permission has received a suspended jail sentence.

Ronald Stephens (47), of Derrin Road, Enniskillen, pleaded guilty to driving while disqualified, using a motor vehicle without insurance and taking a vehicle without authority on January 21, 2018.

Fermanagh Magistrates Court heard that, at around 6pm, police on mobile patrol at Sligo Road stopped a Volkswagen Touran being driven by the defendant.

He was unable to produce his driving documents when requested. Further checks revealed that he was a disqualified driver. After his arrest, Stephens was conveyed to Enniskillen custody suite.

During interview, the defendant disclosed that he had taken the vehicle without the permission of his son, who was the registered owner. He then made admissions to the various offences, the court heard.

Defending counsel, Steffan Rafferty, told the court that his client had entered guilty pleas at the earliest opportunity.

The barrister said that, at every step of the process, Stephens had admitted his culpability.

Outlining the circumstances of the incident, Mr. Rafferty said that the defendant had a son who was autistic.

On the day in question, the barrister said that Stephens had left this son to be looked after by another of his sons.

As the defendant exited the property, the door had locked behind him.

Mr. Rafferty told the court that the defendant’s two sons subsequently found themselves “locked in” inside the property. Upon finding out what had happened, the barrister said his client had “wrongly and foolishly” decided to drive to return to that address to assist them.

He said that Stephens had been detected while on his way back from helping out his sons.

Mr. Rafferty claimed that, if the defendant had been stopped going to an “emergency” situation, the police may well have taken a different approach.

In mitigation, the barrister said that Stephens was a man with various health complaints who was incapable of working and requested that the judge leave something hanging over his head.

Deputy district judge, Peter Prenter, observed that it was a serious matter, aggravated by the no insurance charge.

The judge said he had no option but to impose a four-month prison term, which he then suspended for 18 months.

Mr. Prenter also imposed fines totalling £250, a £15 offender levy and a two-year driving disqualification.