Learner driver leaving Mass sped up to 90mph and injured two police officers in defective car

Conor Martin from Dunloy leaves Coleraine Magistrates Court. Picture by Mark Jamieson

A LEARNER driver from Co Antrim reached speeds of up to 90mph and injured two police officers after he attempted to "out-run" police when spotted outside church in a defective car.

Before being caught, Conor Martin (19), of Bellaghy Road, Dunloy, reversed into one police car and then smashed into another PSNI vehicle causing more damage and injuring two officers.

A prosecutor said the incident happened on Sunday February 25 when police on patrol spotted a car with defects and signalled it to stop.

Despite the request the driver sped up, reaching up to 90mph.

Martin was at the wheel and and on a number of occasions he drove on the wrong side of the road causing other drivers to take action. He also attempted to reverse into a police car striking it and causing damage.

When a back up police car arrived Martin collided with it causing substantial damage, and injuring two police officers, although not seriously.

Martin told police: "I drove on, I thought I could get away".

Defence solicitor Denise Gillan said: "He was coming from Mass on a Sunday morning when this happened. He is not claiming to be a regular church-goer."

The solicitor said Martin had been attending an anniversary Mass for a relative and had planned to meet up with his girlfriend in Ballintoy and go for a meal.

However, Ms Gillan said the Peugeot 405 had a cracked windscreen, no exhaust silencer and the car suspension was lowered which was noticed by police.

The solicitor said instead of stopping Martin, who has a clear record, "just completely lost the run of himself".

She added: "He took a rush of blood to the brain. For some reason he thought he could out-run police".

Martin pleaded guilty to a number of offences including dangerous driving; failing to stop for police; using a vehicle in a dangerous condition; having an incorrect number plate and offences relating to suspension, exhaust and tyres.

He was uninsured, had no MOT; was an unaccompanied learner driver; had not displayed L plates and he also admitted causing criminal damage to a police vehicle.

Martin also pleaded guilty to possessing cannabis which was found in the car. His lawyer said someone else left the drugs there but because Martin knew of their presence he admitted the possession charge.

District Judge Peter King said he was "flabbergasted" that somebody with a clear record behaved like Martin did.

He said the defendant could have killed himself and others and had left two police officers off-duty on sick leave.

Martin was released on bail ahead of sentencing in May.




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