Farmer fined for ‘intimidating’ drivers with flashing beacon in car

A farmer who had a flashing beacon on the dashboard of his car as he drove in an “intimidating” way along a Co. Antrim dual-carriageway caused other drivers to panic – and at least one road user almost crashed.

Conall McToal (19), of White Hall Place, Ballycastle, was originally charged with dangerous driving at Crankhill Road near Ballymena, but he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of driving without due care and attention.

A prosecutor told Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday that on Monday, May 15, this year McToal was driving a Volkswagen Passat in a way which was intimidating to other drivers as a yellow flashing dash strobe-light was operating.

She said one driver was so panicked they almost crashed when they pulled over.

When spoken to by police McToal claimed he had been doing about 75mph and he confirmed he had a flashing beacon in his car but could not recall if it had been in use on the date in question.

‘Used in the context of farming’

The prosecutor said the defendant told officers he was a farmer and used the beacon whenever he was using his car to assist moving sheep on roads.

McToal appeared in court where a defence lawyer said his client works on the family farm and is also a part-time barman. McToal’s lawyer said he normally uses the beacon in the “context of farming”.

Regarding the date in question, the lawyer said his instructions were that a passenger could have turned it on without his client’s knowledge.

Fined

Fining McToal £250 and imposing five penalty points, district judge Peter King said it should have been “absolutely obvious” to McToal that the strobe light was on.

The judge said he had no difficulty accepting that the beacon would be valuable in a farming context “but on this occasion the combination of using the strobe light and speed” amounted to careless driving.

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