‘Van sped at 100mph during police pursuit’

Laganside Court Building
Laganside Court Building

A stolen van was driven at speeds of over 100mph during a police pursuit into Belfast, a court heard.

It struck three different vehicles between the M1 motorway and crashed to a halt in the north of the city, police said.

Details emerged as bail was refused to a man accused of a catalogue of motoring offences linked to the incident on Friday.

Seamus Patrick Shortt, 28, of Bruslee Way, Belfast, faces a total of 18 charges.

They include: taking the Vauxhall Vivaro without consent; dangerous driving; and failing to stop, remain at or report an accident.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard police pursued the van from the M1 into the city.

An officer said it was driven erratically at speeds in excess of 100mph.

The vehicle came off at the Westlink, swerving round stationary cars and narrowly missing pedestrians, he claimed.

It then headed towards Carrick Hill, allegedly pulling out into oncoming traffic as it moved on to the New Lodge district.

The court was told the van was driven at more than 85mph in the city.

It was claimed that Shortt was spotted behind the wheel, at one stage reversing at speed and colliding with a stationary police car before driving off again.

Eventually the van crashed just off the Antrim Road, with the accused allegedly seen abandoning it and running off.

The police officer said Shortt was arrested after being found hiding in a toilet at his house.

“The clothing he was wearing at the time was discarded in the toilet and he was extremely unsteady on his feet,” the constable added.

“He appeared to be very drowsy and slurring his words.”

Police later discovered three cars had allegedly been struck by the van - one on the motorway, one on the Westlink, and one in the New Lodge.

Shortt denies being in the stolen vehicle, claiming to have been at home all day.

A defence lawyer argued that CCTV evidence in the case was brief and unclear.

But refusing bail, District Judge George Conner said: “This is a very serious matter.”

Shortt was remanded into custody to appear again in four weeks’ time.