Driver who injured nine police officers jailed
A banned driver who injured nine police officers during two high-speed pursuits through built-up areas has been jailed for six years.
Ordering that Francis Martin Lavery (26) spends half the term in jail and half on supervised licence, Belfast Recorder Judge Tom Burgess also barred him from driving for a further 15 years and told him he was fortunate not to have killed or seriously hurt anyone.
"The defendant, in my opinion, is incorrigible," declared the judge, adding that the court's duty "first and foremost must be for protection of the public".
Earlier, prosecuting lawyer Judith Lowry told Belfast Crown Court the first of the incidents happened at 8.30am on May 29 2010, just 12 days after Lavery had been released from jail for similar offences.
She described how police spotted him driving a Hyundai Lantra car on the Ligoniel Road and tried to stop him but he sped off, managing to reach speeds of around 70mph in a 30mph zone before driving over a stinger device which had been deployed.
Despite that, Lavery reversed at speed, turning 180 degrees into the path of an oncoming police car and striking it before reversing away again, again driving over the stinger device before losing control on a left hand bend and hitting another police vehicle.
Ms Lowry said that in total seven officers were hurt but none seriously and added that Lavery was arrested at the scene as he tried to flee.
The second incident, she said, happened at rush hour on May 19 last year when officers tried to stop Lavery on the Glen Road as he was driving a Honda Prelude car.
Again Lavery sped off, this time reaching speeds of up to 90mph in another 30mph zone and the lawyer told the court how the 20-minute chase ended at Trench Park.
During that pursuit, Lavery drove on the wrong side of the road, forcing road users to take evasive action. He then ploughed across a grass play area, narrowly missing pedestrians, before colliding with a Hyundai Getz, a wall and a police car, injuring two officers.
Lavery, from Lagmore Drive in Dunmurry, claimed he was a back-seat passenger in each car but eventually pleaded guilty to a total of two counts of dangerous driving, two of driving while disqualified and without insurance, two charges of failing to stop after an accident and one of obstructing police.