Police chase accused 'drove at traffic'
A banned motorist accused of trying to escape police by speeding towards oncoming motorway traffic acted in panic, the High Court has heard.
Richard David Kirk cut across the M2 to the opposite lanes in a bid to avoid arrest over an earlier collision, prosecutors said.
Three PSNI cars were involved in a pursuit said to have reached up to 90mph before the 25-year-old was stopped in east Belfast.
Kirk, of Greenway in the city's Cregagh area, is charged with 10 separate driving offences following the incident last Saturday.
He was granted bail but barred from being in any private motor vehicle.
Kirk was allegedly behind the wheel of a Renault car and over the drink-drive limit when it collided with another vehicle during an overtaking manoeuvre on the Frosses Road near Ballymoney at around 9am on August 8.
A prosecution lawyer claimed he took off and refused to get out when the other driver followed him to a stop outside Portrush.
Later that morning police alerted to the incident spotted the Renault at the Dunsilly roundabout near Antrim, activating lights and sirens amid attempts to bring it to a halt. Instead, it was alleged, the car continued onto the M2 before travelling against the flow of traffic.
Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan was told Kirk moved into the path of oncoming cars and cut across the motorway before heading for Belfast.
Police pursued at speeds of 80-90mph as the Renault weaved in and out of traffic, the court heard.
The car, said to have three passengers on board, finally came to a halt on the Mountpottinger Road.
Following his arrest Kirk claimed he had offered to drive because the vehicle's owner had taken too much drink.
"He said he panicked," the prosecutor added.
Defence counsel stressed that a breath test showed his client was only marginally over the drink-drive limit.
"When he encountered police he drove off in a panic with police in pursuit," the lawyer added.
The charges against Kirk include failing to stop, report or remain at the scene of an accident, dangerous driving, driving while disqualified and while unfit.
Sir Declan said the accused's alleged actions caused "grave concern", but granting bail, he pointed to Kirk's parents being present in court for the hearing.
"It seems to me they are here because they want to see if they can engage with him to change his approach."
The judge also imposed a night-time curfew and alcohol ban as part of the terms of release.