Stolen van 'was driven at 100mph' in Belfast chase

Laganside courts The man appeared at Belfast Magistrates' Court

A stolen van was driven at speeds of more than 100mph and struck three other vehicles during a police pursuit into Belfast, a court has heard.

A judge said a large number of people were put at high risk of significant injury during the incident on Friday.

The car was pursued from the M1 motorway before crashing to a halt in the north of the city, police said.

Seamus Patrick Shortt, 28, of Bruslee Way, north Belfast, faces a total of 18 charges. He was refused bail.

The charges include: taking the van without consent; dangerous driving; and failing to stop, remain at or report an accident.

An officer told Belfast Magistrates' Court the van was driven erratically at speeds in excess of 100mph.

The vehicle came off at the Westlink, swerving round stationary cars and narrowly missing pedestrians, he said.

It then headed towards Carrick Hill, allegedly pulling out into oncoming traffic as it moved on to the New Lodge district.

The court was told the van was driven at more than 85mph in the city.

'Hiding in toilet'

It was claimed that Mr Shortt was spotted behind the wheel, at one stage reversing at speed and colliding with a stationary police car before driving off again.

Eventually the van crashed just off the Antrim Road, with the accused allegedly seen abandoning it and running off.

The police officer said Mr Shortt was arrested after being found hiding in a toilet at his house.

"The clothing he was wearing at the time was discarded in the toilet and he was extremely unsteady on his feet," the constable added.

"He appeared to be very drowsy and slurring his words."

Police later discovered three cars had allegedly been struck by the van - one on the motorway, one on the Westlink, and one in the New Lodge.

Mr Shortt denies being in the stolen vehicle, claiming to have been at home all day.

A defence lawyer argued that CCTV evidence in the case was brief and unclear.

But refusing bail, a district judge said: "This is a very serious matter whereby large numbers of the public were put at high risk of significant injury."

Mr Shortt was remanded into custody to appear again in four weeks' time.

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