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25 Sept 2022

Restricted County Derry driver drove mother's car at 120mph

The defendant had three passengers at the time of the incident.

Restricted County Derry driver drove mother's car at 120mph

Magherafelt Magistrates Court.

A County Derry 'R' driver's parents have forbidden him from carrying passengers after he was detected driving his mother's car at 120mph earlier this year, a court has heard.

Jude Thomas (18), of Moneysharvan Road, Maghera, entered a plea of guilty to travelling over 45mph as a restricted driver at Magherafelt Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

The court heard that police had observed the defendant's vehicle travelling towards Castledawson at a speed in excess of 120mph on the Glenshane Road on July 8 2022.

After the car passed them at speed, police matched the speed of the car and followed it for around half a mile.

They noted the vehicle was displaying R-plates and that there were three passengers of similar age accompanying the defendant.

Deciding to pull over the vehicle as soon as possible, police activated blue lights and sirens, and while the defendant attempted to stop, the car was observed 'veering from left to right'.

Defence for Thomas said the incident was 'unacceptable' and that the defendant was lucky not to be facing a charge of dangerous driving.

The incident had taken place just two days after the defendant's 18th birthday, and at the time he was heading to the cinema in Cookstown in his mother's car.

Counsel said he had not sought to blame the offence on 'peer pressure' and that he had taken full responsibility for the behaviour.

Since the incident, the defence said the defendant had gone to all three passengers' houses to apologise to their parents and that his own parents were no longer permitting him to carry passengers.

A tracker device which sends an alert when the driver's speed increases in excess of 45mph has also been fitted to the vehicle.

Counsel said these were examples of how seriously the defendant and his family were taking the incident, and noted a number of references submitted to the court on his behalf.

Judge McSorley said it was an exceptionally high speed and a 'poor error of judgement'. She said the defendant may not have been subject to verbal peer pressure but that he may have felt it in other ways.

Noting the references, she said he came across as an 'exceptional young person' and had 'great family support'.

She disqualified Thomas from driving for a period of 12 months and fined him £200, alongside a £15 offender's levy.

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