Man led police on high speed chase ‘panicked’

A 23-year-old disqualified driver who led police on a high speed chase on country roads, reaching speeds of up to 90mph, has received an eight-month jail sentence.

Albert McDonald, whose address was given as Rathbeg Crescent, appeared at Limavady Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday where he was was jailed for a number of driving-related offences including two counts of driving while disqualified, dangerous driving, driving without insurance, making a false declaration to obtain a certificate of insurance and failing to stop for police.

The court heard an off duty police officer saw McDonald driving out of the forecourt ofthe Tesco Express store on the Broad Road.

The off duty officer contacted local police, but officers were unable to locate McDonald.

On March 25th at 1am, the court heard McDonald was seen by police driving the same car on Irish Green Street. Police followed McDonald onto Roemill Road where they said he did not slow down as he drove over the speed bumps, and his speed increased.

Police used their lights in an attempt to stop McDonald, and pulled up alongside him, but he continued driving and he travelled through the car park of a local hotel and onto the Drumrane Road.

The court heard McDonald gained speeds of approximately 90 mph on country roads and that he was observed driving through a junction where he should have given way. A pursuit driver had been tasked, but was unable to stop McDonald.

McDonald told police that he had obtained insurance earlier in February, but he failed to inform the insurance company he was a disqualified driver. The court heard McDonald also told police he didn’t stop for officers because he “panicked” and said that he didn’t tell the insurance company about being a disqualified driver because he “didn’t think it was any of their business”.

Defence counsel Nicola Rountree told the court McDonald was “extremely fearful” of a custodial sentence and said there was “no justification” for the “risk taking behaviour” demonstrated to the court by McDonald.

District Judge Liam McNally said it was the fourth time McDonald had driven without insurance and the second time he had driven while disqualified. Judge McNally said he would be failing in his duty if he did not make it clear that such offences should be marked by a custodial sentence.

McDonald was sentenced to eight months in jail, disqualified from driving for three years, fined £200 and ordered to pay an offender levy of £25. McDonald was granted bail in the sum of £500 pending the outcome of an appeal.