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Tassagh man came ‘within a hair’s breadth’ of going to jail for catalogue of offences

'I am appalled that someone as young as you has amassed such a record'

A Tassagh man has been told he has “come within a hair’s breadth of a prison sentence” after pleading guilty to a catalogue of offences.

Joshua Burley, Dundrum Road, pleaded guilty to two counts of driving whilst disqualified, dangerous driving, two counts of driving whilst uninsured, failing to stop for police, failing to report an accident, failing to return to court and common assault.

Armagh Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday heard details of the offences, committed on a number of dates stretching back to last year.

The first offences occurred on November 7 last, when the 20-year-old crashed a Volkswagen Golf on the Keady Road, Keady, but did not report the accident.

The next – a charge of common assault – came the following day.

A man, hearing noises outside his home in the early hours of the morning, went outside to find the defendant and another male sneaking around. When he confronted the two they punched him in the head, before leaving.

It was heard that no serious injuries were suffered with the injured party’s largest complaint being that of a sore lip.

The last incident occurred on March 8 this year at around 5.30pm, when a BMW on the Dundrum Road was driven towards police, causing them to swerve.

Officers activated their blue lights which caused Burley to accelerate, forcing other vehicles onto a grass verge. The police abandoned out of concern for public safety.

The following day the defendant was arrested and taken to Lurgan Custody Suite.

During interview, he admitted to being the driver police had seen that night.

Defence barrister Seamus Lannon said Burley’s father was “appalled by his behaviour” and had attended court on previous occasions.

It was revealed that the defendant helped on his father’s farm but this would be greatly restricted if a driving ban was put in place.

District Judge Paul Copeland commented: “This is troubling, given this young man’s age. He has already engaged in community service orders, the next option is custody.”

He added: “I am appalled that someone as young as you has amassed such a record.”

Burley was banned from driving for two years and sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.

The defendant was also ordered to pay a fine of £300, along with the offender’s levy, within eight weeks.

District Judge Copeland warned Burley that he had “come within a hair’s breadth” of being sent to jail.

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