THE District Judge at Omagh Magistrates Court suggested that former Ulster Unionist council candidate Ryan Moses was “trying to be exceptionally smart” when he claimed that he believed he was eligible to drive despite being disqualified.
He had applied to renew his licence before the case came to court and it was dispensed while the old licence was surrendered to the authorities.
He used that licence to obtain insurance which was invalidated as he was disqualified.
Defence solicitor Michael Fahy also told the court that his client’s explanation had to be taken with a “degree of scepticism”.
The 27-year-old from Drumlegagh Road North, Newtownstewart was banned from driving for 16 months in September last year when he was convicted of failing to supply a breath sample and failing to stop for police.
This week he was sentenced to three months jail, suspended for 12 months and disqualified for 12 months.
He admitted charges of driving while disqualified and without insurance.
During the hearing it also emerged that the previously high profile UUP activist plans to relocate to England to take up full-time employment with the Conservative party.
The offences were detected as he drove a Ford Focus on the Beltany Road in Omagh on March 2.
He claimed he had obtained a valid driving licence from the Driving Vehicle Authority (DVA) and thought it was “okay” to drive.
Mr Fahy said his client offered a “quasi-explanation” and explained that it was during the 14 days after receiving the disqualification he was able to get insurance and the licence as the court allowed that length of time for an appeal against the conviction.
However Moses did not lodge an appeal.
The solicitor added, “He is an intelligent young man with significant attainment and the explanation has to be looked at with a degree of scepticism.”
Defence counsel also stated that Moses has been offered work in the political party in Cumbria and has a “good work record”.
Mr Fahy said, ‘He is under no illusions regarding the seriousness of his decision making at that time.”
Imposing the suspended jail term and further driving ban, District Judge Bernie Kelly said the offence was “calculated”.
She told Moses, “You are a highly intelligent individual. I think you were trying to be exceptionally smart.
“You deserve an immediate custodial sentence. You tried to apply for the licence before the details of the court outcome were sent to the DVA in Coleraine.
“Your solicitor would have told you in advance that you would receive an immediate period of disqualification. There was no manoeuvre for that. You knew all that.”