Northern Ireland

Jail for banned driver caught three times

Laganside courts
Image caption Mooney was sentenced at Belfast Crown Court

A man who drove a car while disqualified three times has been jailed for 12 months.

Anthony Joseph Mooney told police on one of the occasions he was "full of blues [pills] at the time".

The 34-year-old, of Burrenview Court in Newcastle, was originally banned from driving in July 2015.

Sending him to prison, a judge asked why he was repeatedly caught driving by police, arrested, then granted police bail which allowed him to re-offend.

The first incident occurred on the evening 21 April 2016 in west Belfast.

A man was driving along the Glen Road when a Mercedes driven by the defendant came off the Monagh Bypass and struck the passenger side of his vehicle.

The Mercedes then crashed into safety railings before hitting a wall and coming to a stop.

DNA on airbag

The other motorist saw two men coming to Mooney's assistance and getting him out of the car, before all three fled the scene.

Police were called, and Mooney was arrested a short time later. He was found to be in possession of 80 Phenazepam tablets he was not prescribed, and his DNA was found on the airbag of the crashed Mercedes.

The following month, on the morning of 10 May, police were on patrol in north Belfast, when a Volkswagen Passat came to their attention on Clifton Street.

They checked the vehicle's details and discovered it was being driven without insurance.

When they tried to stop the vehicle, the Passat, driven by Mooney, proceeded to drive dangerously while being pursued by a police vehicle.

Mooney then drove onto the M1 where at one point his driving was so erratic that it forced an ambulance to pull over. The car was abandoned at Slievebann Avenue, and Mooney was arrested in a nearby health centre later that day.

His mobile phone was found in the Passat, and during his initial denials about involvement, Mooney claimed his phone had been stolen.

Ran out of petrol

Mooney was back behind the wheel in the early hours of 30 November 2016, when a police patrol came to the aid of a driver who had run out of petrol on the M1.

When officers spoke to the driver - Mooney - they established he was disqualified and arrested him.

Belfast Crown Court was told Mooney had 56 previous convictions, seven of which were for driving while disqualified.

He admitted a serious of offences arising from the three separate incidents.

Mooney will spend an additional year on supervised licence when he is released from prison.

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