Thursday 27 October 2016

Euromillions winner handed community service after alcohol fuelled assault on taxi driver

George Jackson

Published 20/08/2015 | 21:31

Margaret Loughrey scooped the EuroMillions jackpot last December
Margaret Loughrey scooped the EuroMillions jackpot last December

A woman who won £27million (€37m) in the EuroMillions in December 2013, has been ordered by a judge to complete 150 of unpaid community work after she admitted assaulting a taxi driver during an alcohol fuelled incident in the town earlier this year.

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Margaret Loughrey (50) from Strabane in Co Tyrone also admitted causing criminal damage to the taxi driver's glasses and to his satellite navigation system during the incident outside her home on May 14.

As well as imposing a 150 hour Community Service Order on Loughrey, Deputy District Judge Sean O'Hare also ordered her to pay restitution of £559 for the damage she caused to the taxi driver's glasses and also ordered her to pay the driver compensation of £200.

A Public Prosecution Service solicitor told Strabane Magistrate's Court that Loughrey, who had no previous criminal convictions,  also verbally abused police officers following her arrest after the incidents. The solicitor said the police were alerted to the incidents near the junction of Bridge Street and Chestnut Park in Strabane on May 14 following a 999 call from the driver.

"He said she was going mad in his taxi and that she had broken his glasses and assaulted him. The driver said he had earlier picked her up at an address in Sion Mills and took her to her home at Bridge Street. She then shouted at him that she had no keys to get into her house. The injured party tried to gain access to the address but when he returned to his taxi the defendant refused to get out of the car", the solicitor said.

He added that the driver said Loughrey grabbed his glasses and broke them, pulled his satellite navigation system from his windscreen and threw a book which the driver kept in the back of his taxi at him. When he decided to drive her to the police station Loughrey shouted at him "how dare you take me to the police station". The driver described Loughrey's behaviour as irate and aggressive.

The prosecution solicitor said Loughrey was highly intoxicated and was argumentative to the police officers and she had to be restrained by them when they removed her from the taxi.

"It wasn't until she'd sobered up the following morning that she was interviewed and she told the police she didn't remember anything about the incidents", the solicitor added.

The Deputy District Judge said he noted there were no injuries to the taxi driver and he said that Loughrey, in her pre-sentence report, had not given an explanation for her out of character behaviour.

"What was the trigger for this behaviour on this particular night?" he asked.

Defence barrister Stephen Chapman replied "it was the amount of alcohol she had taken. She had been drinking vodka and was highly intoxicated after consuming a large amount of alcohol.

"She is a woman with a number of advantages and she accepts that her behaviour on this night was totally unacceptable. She is somebody who has undergone a significant change in her life in recent years and she has gone about those changes in a positive manner that has benefited many people in many different ways.

"She has other things going on in her life in terms of business interests and this is not something which will be repeated. She has been candid during the preparation of her pre-sentence report. In recent times she has started to drink more alcohol that she would normally do. She had been drinking with a number of people she really did not know. Given her circumstances she is well known around this town", Mr. Chapman said.

The Deputy District Judge said given Loughrey's previously unblemished record he accepted it was an example of one off offending.

"You have had more advantages than most people in the last number of years, but they have obviously brought with them some problems", he told Loughrey.

"You have made major contributions to the local community but you will be treated as anyone else who comes before the court with a previously clear record", he added before imposing the 150 hour Community Service Order.

Belfast Telegraph

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