Judge says motorist who tried to out-run police before getting stuck in hay shed must have thought he was ‘starring in Dukes of Hazzard’

The defendant drove into this farm near Ballycastle. Picture - Google Maps

A JUDGE told a man who tried to out-run police by driving into a farm yard and colliding with a PSNI vehicle before his vehicle got stuck in a hay shed must have thought he was “starring” in the ‘Dukes of Hazzard’.

Conor McClements (22), of Clontyfinnan Road near Armoy, admitted driving dangerously in a Seat Leon at Moyarget Road near Ballycastle.

At Coleraine Magistrates Court he also pleaded guilty to failing to stop for police; being uninsured and having no MOT and no licence.

A prosecutor said police were travelling along the Moyarget Road on October 17 this year when they observed a male sitting in a parked vehicle on a lay-by.

He was using a mobile phone and he appeared to turn his face away when police approached.

Officers then turned their vehicle around but McClements had already driven off and overtook a people carrier vehicle on the crest of a hill.

Police activated their blue lights and followed the vehicle which turned sharply down a lane way at Moyarget Road and police followed into a farmyard.

McClements then accelerated towards the exit and a “low impact” collision occurred when police attempted to block the route.

The defendant’s vehicle ended up “stuck” in a hay shed where it revved loudly and was rocking back and forward with smoke coming from the tyres.

There was then a struggle but officers were able to remove the keys.

Damage was caused to the hay shed and items inside it including a table, generator and wheelbarrow amounting to £650 to fix.

The prosecutor did not have an estimate for the damage to the police vehicle.

No police officers were injured, the court heard.

Defence solicitor Garrett Greene said it was an “extremely foolish” piece of driving.

He said the defendant, described as an unemployed steel fixer, bought the car with the intention of fixing it up to sell on and it had now been seized by police.

District Judge Peter King told the defendant: “I don’t want to sound glib about this but you would think you were starring in some episode of ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’. This was ridiculous driving.”

That was a reference to an American TV series from around 35 years ago which involved two fictional cousins constantly being chased by police.

Judge King added: “You could have killed yourself; the oncoming traffic and the officers you collided with could have been injured and taken off duty.

“Thank goodness the police were able to get you stopped before anybody was hurt”.

The judge said if there had not been a guilty plea the defendant, who had a previous careless driving conviction, would have gone to jail.

McClements was given a three months jail term, suspended for a year; was banned from driving for 18 months; was fined £225 and has to pay £650 compensation for damage at the farmyard.

Judge King warned the defendant: “Be very very careful going forward”.

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