Learner driver chased by police drove for mile after tyres were blown out

A learner driver pursued by police in north Belfast kept going for a mile after a stinger device blew out the car's tyres, a court has heard.

Tuesday, 31st July 2018, 5:46 pm
Updated Friday, 31st August 2018, 5:03 pm

Jonathan Sterling claimed he only continued because he feared he was being chased and suffered a panic attack.

The 32-year-old, of Bainesmore Drive in the city, was given a three-month suspended prison sentence and disqualified from driving for a year.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court was told police were alerted to him being in his partner’s Vauxhall Vectra in the early hours in March 18.

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The car sped away after being spotted on the Shankill Road and Twaddell Avenue.

A prosecution lawyer said it continued on to the Crumlin Road despite police in pursuit flashing their blue lights.

The vehicle then headed on to the Ballysillan Road, travelling at speed in the direction of waiting PSNI officers.

A stinger device was deployed, puncturing the Vectra’s tyres but failing to bring it to a halt.

Eventually the car was located a further mile away on the Oldpark Road.

The defendant was arrested at that point and claimed to be unaware it had been police in pursuit.

“He thought he was being chased and said he was having a panic attack,” the prosecutor added.

Sterling was convicted of failing to stop for police, having no insurance, being an unaccompanied learner driver and failing to display ‘L’ plates.

Defence counsel Sean O’Hare said his client has taken steps to address underlying issues behind the offending.

Mr O’Hare also told the court police had been contacted by Sterling’s partner because of her concerns for him.

District Judge Amanda Brady responded: “He knows he shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car.”

Suspending the three-month jail term for 18 months, she also imposed a total of £150 in fines.