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Drink driver who damaged police vehicles trying to evade detection given suspended sentence

Prosecution informed the court that two police vehicles had been taken out of service as a result of the incident and four officers had resulting injuries

A Cloughoge man who damaged two police vehicles whilst trying to avoid detection whilst over the legal drink drive limit has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

In sentencing the 32-year-old, the district judge described this as “an atrocious piece of driving with all the aggravating factors” in which he put himself, officers and other road users at risk.

Ciaran John Lee, of Park View, had pleas of guilty entered on his behalf to a total of eight charges at Newry Magistrates’ on Wednesday.

He was charged with dangerous driving, failing to stop for police, failing to stop at an accident, failing to remain at an accident, using a vehicle without insurance, driving whilst unfit, failing to co-operate with a preliminary breath test and failing to provide an evidential sample of breath.

Prosecution outlined that on August 17, at 11.45pm, police in the vicinity of Edenappa Road in Jonesborough had their attention drawn to a Ford Transit which appeared to make off at speed upon spotting them.

Officers followed and signalled for the vehicle to stop after they observed it swerving on the road.

The van failed to do so and at one point swerved left in an attempt to ram the police vehicle off the road.

The driver also collided with another police vehicle, which also made attempts to stop him, causing two of its wheels to lift from the ground.

The van did eventually come to a stop and the driver, who was identified as this defendant, was detained.

Officers observed that Lee appeared intoxicated, a preliminary breath test was requested but he refused to co-operate.

The defendant was arrested and taken to Lurgan Custody Suite, where he also refused to provide an evidential sample of breath for analysis.

Prosecution informed the court that two police vehicles had been taken out of service as a result of the incident and four officers had resulting injuries.

Defence barrister Justin Bryne stated: “This man has serious mental health difficulties. He has not left the house since the incident. He was driving the work van and he was clearly over the limit.

“He tried to evade police and make it over the border. This was disgraceful driving and he accepts that fully.”

District Judge Eamonn King said: “This is an atrocious piece of driving with all the aggravating factors. Driving while intoxicated, trying to evade detection, driving uninsured.

“He put himself at risk and the life of the officers at risk and other road users at risk.”

Lee was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for two years and was disqualified from driving for two years.

In addition, the defendant was also ordered to pay a fine of £550, along with the offender’s levy of £15, within 10 weeks.

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