A man who took a car from Newtownbutler and drove to Co. Antrim, where he was chased by police before crashing into a fence, has been given a prison sentence.

At Enniskillen Magistrates Court on Monday, it was heard that after police were called to an incident at an address in Newtownbutler on January 3.

When they were at the address, Lee Southam (21), with an address of Windmill heights, Enniskillen, arrived and was let into the house by the reporting party.

After a time he left and arrived back and had words with the householder before leaving again. Southam was later located in Randalstown, Co. Antrim.

Started in Antrim

He was first seen in Antrim, where police indicated him to stop but he did not comply, and a pursuit started towards Randalstown, the court heard.

Driving at 60-70mph, Southam overtook vehicles while others had to pull into the grass verge to avoid colliding with him.

Southam entered an estate in Randalstown and drove down an alleyway before crashing into a fence.

Police lost sight of Southam when he jumped out of the car and over a fence but he was later found in a house, hiding behind a sofa.

During an interview with police, Southam did not comment, but confirmed he had no driving licence.

Ciaran Roddy, a barrister for the defendant, said this was “near enough as bad a case of dangerous driving” the court is likely to have dealt with, which was sustained over a significant distance with no viable excuse.

Saving grace

He said the only saving grace was that nobody was injured, and the damage was limited to a temporary fence.

Looking at Southam’s criminal record, Mr. Roddy said up until February, 2021, Southam had no convictions.

Mental health difficulties and traumatic experiences in his childhood harmed him, and had not been adequately dealt with.

Mr. Roddy asked the court to take into account Southam’s age when dealing with him, in terms of driving disqualification, and to leave a “light at the end of the tunnel” for him when the case had been dealt with.

For dangerous driving, failing to stop for police, using a motor vehicle without insurance, and having no driving licence, Southam was given a four-month prison sentence, a three-year driving ban and a £100 fine.