Derry man jailed for ramming police car

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A 29-year-old Derry man who twice rammed a police car in an attempt to evade arrest has been sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment.

Neil Patrick O’Brien of 154B Spencer Road, was sentenced at Derry Magistrate’s Court on Monday for dangerous driving, failing to stop at an accident, resisting arrest, no driving licence, no insurance, driving with excess alcohol and criminal damage.

At the time of the offences on September 1, 2012, the court heard the defendant was on bail for other drink driving offences.

At 9am on September 1 police received reports of a white van being driven erratically in Hampstead Park. Later that day the PSNI attempted to stop the van but the defendant made no attempt to halt. The police pulled their vehicle in front of the defendant’s but, in an attempt to get away, he reversed at speed. As police approached the vehicle the three people in the van attempted to run away and a struggle ensued, during which CS spray was used, the court was told.

The court heard that there was substantial damage to the police vehicle as it had become entangled with the van.

Seamus Quigley, defence solicitor for O’Brien, who appeared in court via video link from Maghaberry prison, said: “It is fortunate no-one was seriously hurt but my client admitted the charges at the earliest opportunity.”

District Judge Barney McElholm said: “This is his third conviction for driving with excess alcohol. A very aggravating feature in these offences is he was on Crown Court bail at the time. So while he was in front of Crown Court for driving offences he embarks on this spree thinking it will all be wrapped up in the one sentence thinking ‘I’ll get this for free’.

“It was dangerous conduct to ram a police car; it was then out of service which means the taxpayers of this town are denied a service they paid for. For that gross offence against the people I’m sentencing you to five months in prison.”

O’Brien was also fined £500 for failing to stop, five months in prison for assaulting police, five months for resisting arrest, fined £500 for no driving licence, three months in prison for no insurance and disqualified from driving for two years, five months in prison for driving with excess alcohol and disqualified for five years until tested and nine months’ imprisonment “for the calculated and costly damage to public property.” An ‘offenders levy’ of £25 was also imposed.

All the sentences are concurrent and amount to nine months’ imprisonment and a fine of £1,025.