One-armed driver was over limit and talking on mobile

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The charge sheet hardly did justice to Stuart MacNamara, a one-armed landscape gardener who drove his car while holding a conversation on his mobile telephone by using his one good arm.

In a choice example of legal understatement, "not having proper control of his car" was how prosecutors labelled MacNamara's antics after he had driven through a red light while deep in conversation.

Police described his driving yesterday as "crass and reckless". Magistrates in Swansea banned him from driving for 18 months.

The court was told he had been taking part in a heavy drinking session with friends until the early hours on Sunday last week but thought he was safe to drive 14 hours later.

The 34-year-old, whose right arm was removed below the elbow in an accident, was stopped by police in his car, which had not been adapted to cater for his disability. They quickly realised he had been steering with the stump of his right arm while holding a phone to his ear with his good arm.

MacNamara, of Llanmorlais, Swansea, who has four children, was arrested after failing a breath test, but claimed that he could control his car despite his disability. He admitted drink-driving, going through a red light and not having proper control of his car. Magistrates banned him from driving for 18 months and he was ordered to pay £450 costs.

Superintendent Dick Lewis, head of traffic operations at South Wales Police, said: "The crassness of his behaviour hardly needs comment. It is self-explanatory. One of these offences is bad enough, never mind all three. We constantly urge people not to use mobile telephones while driving and to have a hands-free system. It is very easy to do these days."

The case was brought a week after the Labour MP Janet Anderson introduced a private member's Bill to ban drivers from using hand-held mobile phones.