A farmer taking a sick sheep to the vet was spotted talking on a mobile phone whilst driving, Ballymena Magistrates Court heard today (Thursday, February 1).

John Desmond Connolly (30) - of Garron Walk, Larne - was detected at Upper Cairncastle Road near Larne in March last year.

A prosecutor said a police patrol noticed the offence whilst the defendant was driving an Isuzu 4X4.

The prosecuting lawyer said the defendant told police he had a "sick ewe" and was on the phone to a friend whilst taking it to a vet.

Defence barrister Ben Thompson said the offence happened in a rural area, with the "ewe in the jeep".

The court heard the defendant had a bad driving record and if banned from driving, it could cause problems.

Thompson said Connolly's lands were scattered and he needed to be able to drive to them.

District Judge Peter King said it was an "unhappy driving record" and noted that previous offences in the last eight years included absence of insurance, speeding, no MOT and using a mobile phone whilst driving.

"Lo and behold, here we are today dealing with three further matters," the judge said.

At the court sitting, Connolly pleaded guilty to charges of using a mobile phone whilst driving, absence of a driving licence and failing to produce a driving licence to police within seven days.

The farmer was banned from driving for two months and fined £350 (€399).

By Nevin Farrell