Six fled from crashed car which had reached 80mph in town centre and had gone through red traffic lights with over limit learner driver at wheel

ColeraineCourt9 - Edited

Six people ran from a Peugeot 307 which crashed after speeding through Larne town centre at speeds of 80mph including going through red traffic lights, Ballymena Magistrates Court was told.

At the wheel on June 20 this year had been an over-the-limit learner driver, Ryan Joseph Neeson (19), of Cranny View, Carnlough, who was trying to escape from police.

In May this year Neeson had also driven dangerously through Carnlough after police went to speak to him about his vehicle – on that occasion a Seat Toledo – which was flagging up as uninsured.

Telling the court about the Larne incident, a prosecutor said police saw a vehicle travelling at speed at the Harbour Highway and it failed to stop but continued to speed through Larne town centre, failing to stop for red traffic lights.

It drove erratically through side streets and reached speeds of 80mph in an area governed by a 30mph zone.

When it crashed in the Glenarm Road area six people ran from the vehicle.
Neeson had a reading of 51 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit is 35mcgs.

The court heard he claimed he “panicked” when he saw police.

He pleaded guilty to charges of driving whilst unfit; using a vehicle without insurance; being an unaccompanied L driver; dangerous driving; failing to stop for police; driving with excess alcohol in his breath and failing to display L plates.

Referring to the Carnlough incident in May, the prosecutor said police were on patrol at Bay Road and they approached a vehicle, which had been at the Costcutter filling station, about no insurance.

The car made off along Bay Road driving dangerously at speed, overtaking and causing oncoming traffic to slow down, before being found abandoned at Largy Road.

Police found cannabis and a small glass pipe in the car and a quantity of the drug was also found at his house.

Also found in the rear garden of his home was a police cone and two flood signs belonging to Transport NI.

The owner of the car was identified as Neeson but he initially denied that was the case saying he had sold the car at noon that day.

In court he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving; using a vehicle without insurance; two charges of possessing cannabis; failing to display L plates and being an unaccompanied L driver.

Charges of receiving stolen goods relating to the traffic cone and flood signs were withdrawn.

Defence barrister Stephen Law said Neeson was “at a crossroads” in his life and he urged the court not to jail him.

Mr Law said Neeson lives with his mother and she was “gravely concerned”.

He urged the judge to give the defendant a chance to “prove himself to the court and his mother”.

The barrister said because of the incidents the defendant had two cars seized.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said the driving had been “atrocious”, not once but twice, and his initial thought was immediate custody.

However, he took into account the defendant’s young age and relatively limited record and rather than jail him said he was going to impose a package of measures aimed at preventing re-offending.

Neeson was banned from driving for two years and he will have to do a test before getting back on the road.

He was also put on Probation for a year and has to do 200 hours Community Service and pay fines of £250.

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