A father of three who has been banned from driving 36 times has been jailed after leading police on a one-hour car chase from Belfast to Newry.
James Maughan, a member of the travelling community, was handed a five-year sentence for a series of driving offences committed earlier this year.
During the hour-long chase, Maughan drove in a dangerous manner which included both overtaking and undertaking other vehicles, jumping red lights and driving at speeds of up to 110 mph.
The pursuit finally came to an end when officers deployed a ‘stinger’ device which burst the tyres of Maughan’s vehicle.
The 36-year-old, of no fixed abode, will serve half the sentence in prison, and two-and-a-half years on licence when he is released.
Maughan was also disqualified from driving for 10 years by Judge Geoffrey Miller QC, who branded his 211-strong criminal record “astonishing”.
Belfast Crown Court heard Maughan came to police attention at around 4pm on February 1, when the Renault Megane towing a trailer he was driving collided with another vehicle on the Grosvenor Road.
Maughan fled the scene via the Falls Road, and drove to Newry via Nutts Corner, Moira and Tandragee. During the journey, he drove at high speeds and collided with several police and civilian vehicles.
Police deployed two stingers in a bid to stop Maughan. While the first deployment was unsuccessful, the second stinger was effective, and Maughan’s car finally came to rest in the Craigmore Way area of Newry after driving on just the wheel rims for a short distance.
Officers recovered a number of stolen items in the trailer, which were later returned to their owner.
The court was told Maughan’s criminal record included 15 previous convictions for dangerous driving, and 36 for driving whilst disqualified.
Telling the court Maughan had a difficult upbringing, chaotic lifestyle and a lack of education or employment history, his defence barrister also revealed Maughan’s life had been “plagued by drugs and alcohol” – but Maughan was addressing his addictions whilst in custody.
Regarding the offence itself, defence counsel said Maughan had been living in a hostel and was asked to drive the trailer down to Armagh for money. He added that Maughan “made matters worse” when he came to police attention and took the measures he did to avoid arrest.