A 24-year-old farm worker who drove an “old banger” through a police checkpoint and abandoned his car in a laneway told police he panicked because he did not have car insurance, Fermanagh court has heard.
Stephen Terrance Grew, of Carnmore Road, Roslea, was accused of driving on the wrong side of the road in an attempt to avoid police.
He admitted to careless driving, failing to stop for police, no MOT certificate and driving without insurance.
He escaped a driving ban because of his clear record, however he was fined a total of £475 and had six penalty points endorsed on his licence.
A dangerous driving charge was amended to careless driving which he pleaded guilty.
Outlining the background of the case, a prosecutor explained that on August 1, 2014, police were performing a police checkpoint on the Carnmore Road near Roslea.
At around 5pm police spotted a navy Peugeot 406 being driven by the defendant.
Officers indicated to Grew to stop but he failed to do so and continued to drive through the police checkpoint forcing one officer to jump out of the way.
Officers pursued the accused in an unmarked car and signalled for him stop using their lights, however he did not and continued driving.
The court also heard that police saw him take a sharp right and drove on the wrong side of the road. He continued to drive and took a sharp right into a laneway.
He stopped the car, jumped out and ran off and was followed by two dogs who were also in the car.
Grew then jumped over a lane and ran towards a farmyard and went in to a bungalow.
Police followed him to the house where they spoke to another man, who was thought to be the defendant’s father.
He told the officers he had two sons and went to check on them, however some of the doors in the house were locked.
Grew eventually came to the door and admitted to the officers that he was driving the car. Officers also noted that he was still out of breath from running and was very apologetic.
He kept telling the officers that he “just panicked”.
Grew was cautioned for the offences to which he replied: “Yeah, I was the driver. It’s just a farm car.”
The court heard that Grew has no previous record.
Defence solicitor Donal Fee told the court that while his client accepted responsibility for the offences, he denied driving on the wrong side of the road.
“The officers would not have a view of the bend and of the vehicle,” he explained.
“He did cause an officer to jump out of the way at the checkpoint. He did plead guilty to careless driving and failure to stop and his explanation for that, which is completely out of character for him, is that he panicked.
“It’s a farm car, described as an old banger, which he used to check cattle on an outlying farm. That vehicle can be insured on a restricted area within a mile from the house but at the time of the offence that was not the case.
“Hence the panic as he knew he should have had it.”
Grew was described as an “exceptionally industrious” man who works for a farm which produces goats milk.
He added that a loss of his licence would interfere with his livelihood as he lives in a rural area and his work is not easily accessible.
District Judge Nigel Broderick told Grew that if it weren’t for his clear record and the importance of his licence he would be banned from driving.
“If you are caught again you will be banned,” Judge Broderick warned him.
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