Thick smoke obscured vision of police officers pursuing man who allegedly drove van from courthouse after being disqualified

THICK black smoke from a van’s exhaust obscured the vision of police officers pursuing the vehicle which was allegedly being driven at speed by a man who had a short time earlier been disqualified from the road after appearing at Limavady Magistrates Court.

Lee Curley (20), of Cottage Gardens in Drumsurn, is alleged to have left the court last Wednesday and got into a Volkswagen Caddy van.

At Wednesday’s court he had received a three months driving ban and £350 fine after pleading guilty to driving a Seat Leon without insurance and in a dangerous condition.

That offence came to light at Edenmore Road in Limavady in March this year when police noticed the car’s suspension was lowered so much it had to weave between speed bumps.

The vehicle was taken to an MOT centre and found to be in a dangerous condition

Wednesday’s court was told that the vehicle was lowered to such an extent that it wouldn’t pass over speed bumps.

The effectiveness of the vehicle’s brakes were impacted as a result and the car’s exhaust and lights were also found to be defective.

Curley had insurance but he had not disclosed previous traffic convictions or the modifications and the policy was voided.

He then appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court facing several charges relating to the Wednesday – including driving whilst disqualified; driving a vehicle whilst unable to have a full view of the road; failing to stop for police at Broad Road, Limavady; contravening a 60mph speed limit; using a vehicle which was emitting excess smoke and dangerous driving at Drumsurn Road, Limavady.

A police officer said the PSNI spotted the defendant behind the wheel in the vicinity of the Limavady Court in a Volkswagen Caddy van and holding a mobile phone.

After spotting police the defendant drove off and despite police putting on their vehicle’s flashing lights the defendant failed to stop and drove in excess of 80mph at Drumsurn Road.

The officer said black smoke coming from the vehicle obscured the vision of police.

The officer said that when interviewed the defendant said he was aware he had been disqualified that day and he admitted to police he had been driving, failed to stop and had driven at excess speed.

The defendant told police: “My engine has a problem which causes it to smoke a lot”.

Defence solicitor Stewart Ballentine told Ballymena Court the defendant’s behaviour was “the height of stupidity”.
He said the defendant had no way home from court and had no money on him and when followed by police he “panicked”.

The lawyer said the defendant came from a “good home” and was “hard working”.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said the alleged events of the Wednesday were “quite audacious”.

The defendant was given bail but he must not travel in any private vehicle unless it is being driven by his father.

The case was adjourned to Limavady Court in mid-August.

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