Over limit businessman who reversed dangerously at speed at one-way street claims he thought crowd was going to mount ‘racist attack’

Ballymena Court

AN over-the-limit businessman claimed he thought he was going to be the victim of a “racist attack” from a crowd and he then reversed at speed along a one-way street where his vehicle struck a police officer on foot patrol.

Eduardo Yanga (42), of Princes Gardens, Larne, was at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday.

He pleaded guilty to a number of charges including dangerous driving at Lower Cross Street in Larne; driving with excess alcohol and failing to stop, remain and report an accident and was banned from driving for 20 months and fined £725.

A prosecutor said that at 1.25am on February 2 this year police were on foot patrol when they saw a BMW turn into a one-way street.

The vehicle then reversed at speed colliding with a road sign.

A police officer tried to get out of the way but was struck on the hand by the vehicle which then sped off.

Yanga had an alcohol/breath reading of 73 – more than double the legal limit.

The defendant told police he had “panicked”.

A defence barrister said the defendant was in the restaurant business and during the coronavirus pandemic had been delivering food to the “needy” but other employees don’t drive and with the road ban that will now stop unless people go to the business premises.

On the date in question, the barrister said Yanga “let himself down” and had since written to the police to apologise.

The lawyer said the defendant had previously been on the receiving end of “racist abuse and a racist assault”.

On February 2 he had left his phone and decided to go in his car to get it but when a crowd “remonstrated” with him for driving the wrong way at a one-way street “he thought it was a racist-motivated attack on him” and immediately put the car in reverse.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said it was a “poor piece of driving” aggravated by the police officer having to try and get out of the way of the vehicle.

The judge said it was fortunate no one else was injured.

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