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University student who sped past police at 101mph to appeal against driving ban

Defence claimed court decisions could 'completely hamstring his PhD thesis'

A university student – who sped past police on the motorway doing 101mph – has appealed against a court-imposed driving ban.

And a defending solicitor has claimed court decisions could “completely hamstring” her client’s PhD thesis.

Alister Best admitted driving at excess speed when he appeared at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old defendant, from Newtownabbey, sped past police at 101mph on the M1 motorway – governed by a 70mph limit –  at around 11.10pm on May 22.

Best was stopped and cautioned by police.

During a notebook interview, he said he did know what speed he was travelling at and that it had been a long journey.

Court heard the defendant was PhD student in Environmental Science at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Defence counsel told the court that Best’s study focused on peat bogs which had led him to regularly having to travel into the south.

She said that on this occasion the defendant “had simply taken his eye off his speed”, but she conceded that this was “not an excuse”.

Defence also said Best was entering the final year of his studies, for which his licence was crucial, and “all of his hard work will be for nothing” if he lost it.

She said any fines ordered could be paid within four weeks as the defendant lectured at Queen’s and had part-time work as well during his studies.

District Judge Bernie Kelly commented: “I always find it jaw-dropping when people tell me the can’t tell the difference between 70mph and 100mph.”

And she added: “I don’t believe you, the smallest thing could have caused an accident when you are travelling at those speeds.”

Best was handed a four-week driving ban and was ordered to pay a fine of £150, along with the offender’s levy, within four weeks.

District Judge Kelly told him: “This should not affect your studies but should act as a reminder not to do it again.”

This was not accepted by defence counsel, who claimed most of Best’s data collection work was carried out during the summer months.

Bail was set at £250 for appeal purposes.

District Judge Kelly said that, as part of bail conditions, Best would not be allowed to leave the jurisdiction of Northern Ireland.

Defence counsel replied that “this action would completely hamstring his PhD thesis”.

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