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Driver told police who tried to open car door he had to be somewhere before driving off

A man who tried to evade police after panicking at checkpoint because he was a learner driver and not insured has been disqualified for 12 months.

The 22-year-old’s barrister told court the defendant had been a learner for some time but had struggled to pass the theory test.

Christopher Lavery, of Goudy Bridge Road, Aghagallon pleaded guilty to being an unaccompanied L driver, using a vehicle without insurance, two counts of failing to stop for police, dangerous driving and not displaying L plates at Craigavon Magistrates’ on Wednesday.

Prosecution outlined that on August 9, at 3.15pm, police were conducted a vehicle checkpoint on the Annesborough Road, Lurgan.

Officers had two stationary cars at the checkpoint but observed a third, a BMW, start to turn back upon seeing police.

Police ran to try and stop the vehicle from making a three point turn on the road.

The officers tried to open the car doors but were told by the driver, identified as the defendant: “I have to be somewhere”.

Police followed Lavery, who drove off, activating their sirens and lights.

At one point, the defendant slowed down and officers jumped out of their vehicles to approach but he then drove off at speed evading them.

A short distance away, police located the vehicle parked outside an address in the Derrymacash area.

Lavery attended Lurgan Police station later that day for an interview, accompanied by his mother.

During this, the defendant admitted to driving away from police as he had panicked.

Defence barrister Conor Lunny stated: “On the day in question he was driving to work, his mother normally would do this but she is nurse and was needed urgently.

“She had believed her husband was taking Mr Lavery to work; he has been a learner driver for some time but has failed the theory test on several occasions”.

He continued: “He had been on his way back from work when he was stopped, he was afraid of the consequences and in fact ended up making the situation worse.

“He wishes to apologise to the court, this was committed in breach of a Crown Court suspended sentence for a violent offence for which 34 of the 36 months had passed.”

District Judge Amanda Brady said: “I am not going to activate the suspended sentence as it is an offence of a different nature and it was at the tail end.

“Given that he has no motoring record and the difficulties which he has, I will deal with this by way of disqualification”.

Lavery was disqualified from driving for 12 months and was ordered to pay a fine of £500, along with the offender’s levy of £15, within 20 weeks.

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