Belfast Telegraph

Man in police chase crash jailed

By Ashleigh McDonald

A motorist who narrowly missed striking a schoolchild and who crashed into a car with another youngster on board has been jailed.

John Armour was handed a two-year sentence and was banned from driving for three years after appearing in Belfast Crown Court yesterday on a litany of motoring offences.

The 27-year-old, from Upper Greenwell Street in Newtownards, came to the attention of police in two separate incidents over 12 hours last June.

Telling Armour he will serve half his sentence in prison with the remaining 12 months spent on licence upon his release, Judge Patricia Smyth blasted the defendant for putting the lives of pedestrians and other road users at risk with his "appalling driving".

Earlier the court heard that just before midnight on June 6 last year a silver Renault Megane came to the attention of the PSNI in east Belfast. Officers followed the car and, despite attempts to try and get the driver to stop, the vehicle drove on through several sets of red lights in a bid to evade police.

Around Woodstock Link the Megane driven by Armour was on the wrong side of the road, causing other motorists to take evasive action. At this point police stopped their pursuit.

The same vehicle was seen again the following morning at Ravenhill Avenue. When Armour saw officers he did a U-turn in London Street, and again failed to stop.

Prosecuting barrister Mark Farrell said that as Armour drove past a primary school a "young female child was crossing the road and was narrowly missed by the defendant, who also had a near miss with a cyclist". Armour then clipped a BMW before crashing into a second vehicle driven by a woman who had her child with her. The woman and the nine-year-old sustained bruising.

When the defendant was eventually stopped he smelt of alcohol. He was arrested and taken to Musgrave Park police station, where he refused to give a breath sample for analysis.

Mr Farrell told Judge Smyth: "This was a police chase for about four miles on the Tuesday morning. The defendant's driving was quite appalling in the circumstances, given the risk to the public, other road users and in particular school children who were making their way to school."

Defence solicitor Eoghan McKenna said his client "regrets his actions". Revealing Armour experienced a "horrific upbringing" - which included periods in foster homes and a limited education, which has resulted in "zero employment opportunities" - the solicitor also spoke of his client's addiction issues.

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