Belfast musician Duke Special has been convicted of careless driving — but escaped a driving ban — after he was caught speeding at 116mph in the Republic last summer.
The 42-year-old musician, known to his friends and family as Peter Wilson, had been charged with dangerous driving on the M1 at Gibstown, Co Louth, on August 22.
The “hobo-chic” musician had been returning to his home in east Belfast following a gig.
But at Dundalk District Court yesterday, Judge Flann Brennan heard that gardai would accept a guilty plea to the lesser offence of careless driving.
The court was told Wilson, from Lomond Avenue in Belfast, was driving on the northbound carriageway of the motorway when police officers on routine patrol caught him speeding.
Garda Inspector Brendan Cadden told the court he was “driving at a constant speed of 170kph (105mph) and at 187kph (116mph) at one stage”.
The inspector said traffic had been light on the day in question, but the road surface was wet and it was also getting dark.
Eleanor Kelly, solicitor for the Belfast pianist and songwriter, told the court that her client, who has no previous convictions, was driving back to Belfast from a concert at the time.
She said the roads were more or less empty and that he had taken a chance, which he now knows he should not have.
Ms Kelly told the court Mr Wilson was extremely sorry for what he had done and now realises the danger he put himself and other road users in.
She said he had “held his hands up” and was “extremely embarrassed” to be before the courts.
Ms Kelly described the incident as “a once-off” and advised the court her client had €200 (£163) that he was prepared to donate to charity if the court was prepared to leave him without a conviction.
His offer was refused, as Judge Brennan said the excessive |speed involved was “at a level I’d normally consider a disqualification”.
However, the singer was not disqualified, but convicted of careless driving and fined €350 (£285).
The judge warned Mr Wilson that if he drove at such excessive speeds again that he would be disqualified from driving.
Duke Special, aka Peter Wilson (42), is a singer-songwriter from Belfast, known for performing in his local accent. Titles of his popular songs include Freewheel, No Cover Up and Last Night I Nearly Died. He is also known for his dreadlocks and wearing black ‘guyliner’.