A MAN who was apprehended after taking off at speed from Gardaí ‘got caught up in the boisterous behaviour of others’, a court has heard.

Stephen Matthewson (26), with an address at Osbourne Street, Derry, has been given the chance to complete the Pro Social driving course.

Matthewson was charged in connection with the incident on June 14, 2019 and appeared before Buncrana District Court.

Gardaí observed cars performing doughnuts on the N13 road at Bridgend.

The cars took off at speed and headed for the border crossing. Gardaí observed a red Lexus turn off its lights, drive off at speed and show no regard for other road users.

With the assurance of a second patrol car, the red Lexus was stopped and Matthewson was arrested and charged. Matthewson was said to have been apologetic at Buncrana Garda station.

Matthewson has two previous convictions for road traffic offences.

“My client wasn’t one of the cars doing doughnuts,” solicitor for Matthewson, Mr David Murphy, said. “My client drove off and was the middle car.”

Mr Murphy said his client denied the allegation of turning off his lights, noting that the incident was at 10pm on one of the longest days of the year.

His client, he said, was a 26-year-old plumber who drives from Derry to Belfast every day. He asked Judge Paul Kelly to consider not disqualifying Matthewson as that would impact on three employees who obtain a lift to work each day with his client.

“He got rid of the car in question to try to avoid unwanted attention,” Mr Murphy said. “He seemed to get caught up in the boisterous behaviour of other cars.

“He has copped himself on and he has a young child now.”

The court heard that Matthewson is now driving a family estate car.

The case was adjourned to January 14, 2021, by which time it is hoped that Matthewson can do the Pro Social driving course.


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