Fisherman banned from road after falling asleep at the wheel

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A 21-year-old share fisherman was found fast asleep in his car which was in a ditch with the engine running, Oban Sheriff Court heard last week.

Iain Neil Callan, of 19 South Road, Port Glasgow, was asleep at the wheel.  He pleaded guilty to being in charge of a vehicle while being unfit to drive through drink or drugs.

Procurator fiscal James Dunbar said the car was found partly in a ditch on the B8073 near to Ulva Ferry on the Isle of Mull on the afternoon of May 9 last year.

‘The engine had been running and a member of the public removed the keys,’ the fiscal said.

‘Police attended because of a report of a vehicle being in a ditch; they observed the accused asleep in the driver’s seat of the vehicle.’

They tried to rouse him repeatedly and Callan had to leave the car via the passenger side.

‘It became apparent to the officers he was heavily intoxicated but they could smell no alcohol,’ said the fiscal, who added that Callan was unsteady on his feet. ‘He was unable to tell the police how he got there.’

On the journey to Craignure Police Office he became more coherent.

Callan’s defence agent, Ruben Murdanigum, said the fisherman had driven to Mull via the Lochaline-Fishnish ferry and had driven through the night to start work.  He had taken a sleeping tablet, prescribed to a friend who had given it to him, as he was tired and wanted to get some sleep.

Callan told the court he had taken the tablet at about 11am.

But Sheriff John Hamilton was not impressed: ‘That’s nonsense’ he said, ‘I am not accepting your account at all.’ He did not accept that someone who had driven through the night and was exhausted would need to take something to help him sleep.

Mr Murdanigum said in mitigation that as a share fisherman, Callan travelled all over the country for work and needed his licence and asked the sheriff for leniency.

Callan was fined £200 with a £10 victim surcharge and disqualified from driving for 12 months.