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Drunk magistrate escapes prison

Cllr Vince McMahan
Cllr Vince McMahan

A drunk magistrate who smashed into two cars while almost five times the limit has narrowly been spared jail.

Canterbury city councillor Vince McMahan was handed a three-month suspended sentence and banned from the road for two-and-half-years at a hearing on Monday.

The case was heard 65 miles away at City of Westminster magistrates court in London, after twice being transferred at late notice from courts in Folkestone and Medway.

Dad-of-three McMahan – who has revealed he won’t be standing for re-election – admitted drink driving after a session in the town.

The court heard he crashed into an oncoming Ford Focus in Western Avenue, Herne Bay, before skidding into a parked car belonging to city council officer Lyn McDaid.

The driver of the Ford – a 46-year-old woman from Herne Bay – was unhurt in the smash at 5.15pm on March 8.

McMahan, 50, of Plough Court , Broomfield , was arrested and failed a breathalyser test, giving a reading of 167 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath – the legal limit is just 35.

His prison sentence was suspended for 12 months, meaning no action will be taken if he commits no further crimes in the next year. He must also pay £85 costs.

After he was charged, McMahan told the Gazette he had been taking anti-depressants and drinking more due to personal issues.

He added: “I’m absolutely mortified. I’ve never had so much as a point on my licence since 1978. It’s humiliating and embarrassing.”

Before his court appearance, McMahan resigned his role as a magistrate and announced he had asked to be taken off the Tory candidate list for May’s local elections.

Speaking after sentencing he said: “I’m relieved it’s over, but I badly regret it ever happened.

“I can only apologise. I can’t believe I got it so wrong, but I did and I can’t take that back.

“I’ve just got to try and move on now and put it behind me. I’m going to take a bit of time out and catch up with family life, which I’ve neglected a bit.”

Herne Bay Gazette reporters drove more than 100 miles trying to follow McMahan’s case through the court system.

It was first listed to be heard at Folkestone magistrates’ court last Wednesday, but was mysteriously transferred to Medway magistrates to be heard on Monday.

Again the Gazette went along, but despite his name being on the court list, McMahan's case had been transferred to City of Westminster magistrates on an unknown date.

A quick call to the court revealed the case was heard and dealt with that day, with no press in attendance.

McMahan – who used to sit as a magistrate in Sittingbourne and Maidstone – said: “I can only presume they wanted it away from the Kent bench. I was never given a reason.”

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