A man who threw the keys of a vehicle into a hedge and tried to punch a police officer who arrived at the Windyhill Road between Coleraine and Limavady in the early hours of the morning, initially claimed a “random stranger” had driven him there.
Jonathan Paul Wylie (45), a factory worker, of Tunnel Brae, Castlerock, was spotted by police standing at a vehicle which was parked at the side of the road at 2.45am on May 27 this year.
Coleraine Magistrates Court heard on Monday he had pleaded guilty to charges including assault on police; failing to provide a breath sample; driving without due care and attention and contravention of a traffic sign.
A prosecutor said police received a report of a car possibly being driven by an over the limit driver and when they saw the vehicle the defendant was standing beside it with the keys in the ignition and the engine running.
Wylie threw the keys into nearby bushes and during a struggle, when he swung a punch at the face of a police officer, a smell of intoxicating liquor was detected. The defendant told police he was “just changing my wheel”.
The prosecuting lawyer said a member of the public had dashcam footage which showed the vehicle travelling towards Limavady. The reporting person said the vehicle “flew past” and was swerving from side to side.
The member of the public said the vehicle went through a red light in Ballykelly “at a fast pace” without stopping.
During a police interview, the defendant said a “random stranger” had offered to drive him but before police turned up the unknown male had left the scene. A defence lawyer said not long the incident the defendant had been the “victim of a very violent assault” by five males and aware of a car following thought it might have been them.
The lawyer said the car suffered damage after hitting a stone and when police arrived the defendant’s “blood was up”. Deputy District Judge John Rea said if Wylie had actually assaulted the police officer the outcome would have been different.
“The court will not tolerate violence towards police officers,” he said.
Wylie was banned from driving for a year, fined £425 and ordered to pay £75 compensation to the police officer.