A ‘HOMELESS’ man who crashed after hitting speeds of up to 100mph claimed he tried to escape from police as he didn’t want his car – in which he was “living” – seized by officers.
Joey McAuley (53), with an address listed as Portlec Place in Lurgan, was sentenced at Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena, on charges of dangerous driving; failing to stop for police; using a vehicle without insurance and a driving licence matter.
A prosecutor said on May 28 last year police saw two vehicles approach from behind at the M2 motorway which “appeared to be racing”.
Both vehicles turned off at the Rathbeg Roundabout and “attempted to make off from police”.
The court heard one vehicle was an MGZR and the other a Peugeot 407 being driven by McAuley, which both travelled at over 80mph on Greystone Road.
The MG then overtook the Peugeot and both vehicles overtook a lorry at Greystone Roundabout before accelerating along Ballycraigy Road doing around 70-80mph in a 30mph zone.
The Peugeot overtook the MG and at the Belfast Road junction the MG turned left and the Peugeot right towards Antrim.
The Peugeot was pursued and drove through a red light at the Oldstone Road junction and at Belmont Road it was doing speeds of 100mph in 40/50mph zones.
The vehicle attempted to “go the wrong way” on a roundabout at Dublin Road but the driver lost control, striking a traffic island and hitting a hedge, bringing the vehicle to a halt.
A defence lawyer said the defendant had previously been convicted in his absence.
She said McAuley accepted he had driven dangerously and should have stopped for police.
She said there was “no excusing” his behaviour but he is bi-polar and was “homeless” at that point and “was essentially living out of his car at that time so he was fearful that once he stopped the car the police would seize it”.
The lawyer said the defendant, a grandfather, regretted his behaviour.
She said he spends his time “helping homeless people as a Christian, having had the experience of being homeless himself”.
District Judge Nigel Broderick said McAuley had 133 previous convictions.
He said: “This driving was atrocious. He was driving, at one point, 100mph in a 50mph zone and it is extremely fortunate that he didn’t cause injury to any other road user or pedestrian nor indeed himself”.
McAuley was given a five months prison sentence; banned from driving for two years and fined £100.
The other driver previously had his case dealt with at court.