PICTURE : MARK JAMIESON
A previously banned driver has been given a suspended jail sentence after being caught behind the wheel of a car which was under tow on the way to a scrapyard in Coleraine.
Jack Carson (19), of Leyland Road, Ballycastle, had offences detected at Straid Road near Bushmills on March 22 this year.
At the time of the offence he was already a disqualified driver and at Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday he pleaded guilty to driving whilst banned and using a Peugeot vehicle without insurance nor MOT.
Police spotted a vehicle towing the Peugeot with a rope and Carson told officers a person he knew asked him to help.
The defendant said he didn’t think he was committing an offence as he did not believe he was “driving the car as it did not work mechanically” and only had the keys in the vehicle to control the steering.
Defence solicitor Brendan McLernon said his client was coming out of a bakery in Ballycastle when he met a man he knew who was taking a car to a breakers’ yard in Coleraine and his client was asked to steer the car under tow.
Mr McLernon said Carson did not understand that he was driving under the terms of the “Road Traffic legislation” which prompted District Judge Peter King to say that given the defendant’s “extensive brushes” with the legislation he thought he would have known their terms more than most.
Mr McLernon said the man who “instigated” the trip appeared to get a “by ball” and “the young lad who was only doing him a favour ends up in court and his liberty is at risk”.
The lawyer said it was not a case of his client “cocking a snook at the law” and added: “He was asked to do something which he did not consider to be a criminal offence”.
The judge said Carson’s difficulty was that he had nine previous offences, including in the Youth Court, for driving whilst disqualified by terms of his age and then he was dealt with last year in the adult court for driving whilst banned.
Judge King said Monday’s court appearance was the third driving whilst disqualified case, which could normally potentially lead to jail but he believed Carson may have been “taken advantage of” on the scrap run.
“If you are in a tow car you are essentially in control of that vehicle,” he told the defendant who was given a three months jail term, suspended for 18 months, along with an 18 months driving ban and a £75 fine.