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Man accused of driving at officer refused bail after ‘actively’ avoiding police for three months

A man accused of driving at a police officer following a routine stop for speeding has been refused bail.

Objecting to bail, a police constable told court how the 21-year-old  had “actively avoided” police for some three months and had previously fled from officers on June 20.

Okylin Donnelly, of Church Square in Rathfriland, appeared facing a total of eight charges at Armagh Magistrates’, sitting at Newry, via videolink from police custody.

These are namely; attempted grievous bodily harm with intent, dangerous driving, failing to give name an address to police, driving whilst disqualified, failing to stop for police, taking a vehicle without authority, using a vehicle without insurance and excess speed.

The defendant confirmed that he understood the charges which he faced and was connected to the same by the constable.

Defence barrister Conor Byrne made no submissions to the connection but made it known that an application for bail, which was being opposed, was to be made on behalf of his client.

Outlining the background to the case, the constable stated that on May 31, at 5.45pm, police were conducting speed checks on the Hilltown Road, Rathfriland, when a Volkswagen Golf was detected travelling at 40mph – 10mph in excess of the limit.

The driver, who police believe to be the defendant, initially did stop as police asked him for his licence and insurance.

However, he then is alleged to have reversed, requiring a constable to jump out of the way before then revving the car and driving directly at the same officer, with the officer once more having to take evasive action.

The Golf then made off at speed; a member of the public, a short time later, claimed they had to mount a kerb in order to avoid a collision with the defendant’s vehicle.

The male, who had his wife and two-year-old grandchild as passengers, described how the car had overtaken another vehicle and had been travelling towards his vehicle on the wrong side of the road.

He claimed that he mounted the kerb in order to avoid a head-on collision and that safety features on his car had forced an emergency stop.

The driver is alleged to have continued off at speed and police were subsequently unable to locate him in the area.

Checks later showed that the defendant was a disqualified driver. Police called with friends and family but to no avail, with Donnelly now being flagged as wanted for arrest.

On August 30, at 5.49pm, police received a call from a member of the public in relation to an unresponsive intoxicated male at Donard Park in Newcastle.

The male was identified as Donnelly and was subsequently arrested for the offences before the court; he was interviewed the following day, making no comment to questions put to him by officers.

Objecting to bail, the constable highlighted that Donnelly had “actively avoided” police for some three months and had previously fled from officers on June 20.

He further outlined that police believed the defendant to be a “risk to the public”, pointing to his 52 previous convictions, including; 13 for driving offence, one for serious assault and one of dangerous driving.

Defence barrister Conor Byrne stated that is was acknowledged that one of his client’s main difficulties was his previous driving convictions.

He commented that it was Donnelly’s desire to avoid detection, which led to the more serious alleged offences.

Mr Byrne stated that his client had “issues” which he said were evident from the way in which he had been located.

The barrister told court that a surety of £500 was available and that Donnelly’s mother was willing to take the defendant to reside with her, in an address away from his “negative peer group”.

However, Deputy District Judge Peter Prenter commented that he was “not minded” to grant bail citing risk of further offences or absconding.

Donnelly was remanded in custody and the case was adjourned until September 28 for an update.

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