Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland L-driver Martin tried to flee police in 90mph car chase, court told

By Nevin Farrell

A Co Antrim learner driver tried to outrun police in a 20-minute pursuit at speeds of up to 90mph after Sunday Mass, a court has heard.

Conor Martin (19), of Bellaghy Road, Dunloy, reversed into one police car and then smashed into another, injuring two officers.

A prosecutor told Coleraine Magistrates Court that on February 25 this year, a police patrol spotted a car with defects and, despite being signalled to stop, the driver accelerated away at up to 90mph. Martin was at the wheel and on a number of occasions he drove on the wrong side of the road, causing other drivers to take evasive action. On three occasions he attempted to reverse into a police car, striking the vehicle on the last occasion.

By this stage, a prosecutor said, another police vehicle had arrived which the defendant collided with, causing substantial damage. Two police officers subsequently went on sick leave with injuries which were not believed to be serious.

The Peugeot 406 car driven by Martin was examined and found to have defects including springs which were not the correct size.

Martin told police: "I drove on, I thought I could get away."

Defence solicitor Denise Gillan said: "He was coming from Mass on a Sunday morning when this happened. He is not claiming to be a regular church-goer."

She said it was an anniversary Mass for a relative and afterwards the defendant set off for Ballintoy to meet up with his girlfriend and go for a meal. However, Ms Gillan said the vehicle had a cracked windscreen, no exhaust silencer and its lowered suspension was noticed by police.

Instead of stopping, the solicitor said Martin "just completely lost the run of himself". She added: "He took a rush of blood to the brain. For some reason he thought he could 'outrun' police."

Ms Gillan said it was an "appalling piece of driving".

Martin pleaded guilty to dangerous driving; failing to stop for police; using a vehicle in a dangerous condition; having an incorrect number plate and offences relating to suspension, exhaust and tyres. He was uninsured; had no MOT; was an unaccompanied learner driver; had not displayed L plates and he admitted causing criminal damage to a police vehicle. Martin also pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis which was found in the car.

District Judge Peter King said the defendant could have killed himself and others, and had left two police officers off duty.

Martin was released on his own bail of £500 until sentencing in May. An interim driving ban was imposed.

Belfast Telegraph

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