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Lurgan man claiming to be a ‘Highlander’ describes driving during police pursuit as ‘pretty slick’

"So he's not a sovereign citizen or a freeman of the land – he is a Highlander? And that gives permission to possess and use cannabis....not in this jurisdiction but maybe in another reality."

A Lurgan man who claimed to be a ‘Highlander’ which allowed him to possess and use cannabis described his driving during a police pursuit as “pretty slick”.

Terrence Brendan Phillips, 46, of Downshire Avenue, appeared before Craigavon Magistrates’ Court charged with a plethora of offences including driving while disqualified, possession of Class B drugs, dangerous driving, no insurance and failing to provided a specimen and driving while unfit.

The court heard that on February 1, police received reports of an intoxicated male at the Drumgor Tavern in Craigavon.

The Skoda car was then sighted on the Old Portadown Road.

The court then heard that despite being signalled to stop by police, who used sirens and blue lights, the driver continued to drive at speed on the wrong side of the road and a pursuit was initiated.

The vehicle was then boxed in by police but when they tried to remove the defendant from the vehicle, he drove up onto the kerb in an effort to evade them.

And as the vehicle made off, the police noticed that there was a bicycle in the back.

Police then temporarily lost sight of the vehicle before re-locating it unoccupied a short distance away. The bike was no longer in the vehicle.

A cyclist was spotted travelling away from the vehicle. He was stopped and police identified him as the defendant and the key for the Skoda was also recovered.

Police noticed a strong smell of alcohol emanating from the defendant and he was unsteady on his feet. When he was being brought to ground he was searched and police located a long screwdriver tucked into his sock.

Phillips was arrested and further inquiries found he was a disqualified driver. He denied being the driver in interview.

Phillips stated he was on his way back to Portadown and “I was going to the dump to drop off a bag of rubbish”.

He added: “I do have a vehicle and I do have insurance. I do have a licence.”

When the standard of the driving was then put to the defendant, he commented: “I’d say it was pretty slick driving.”

When asked if he noticed police signalling him to stop, he replied, “I wasn’t driving”, adding that “my vehicle must have been stolen”.

He was then asked whether he had taken any drugs and he said that he took cannabis for medicinal reasons. Approximately £60 worth of suspected cannabis was found on his persons.

He told police he was allowed but for other people “it’s illegal”.

“A judge has told me I can use it because I’m a Highlander,” he told police.

He was then asked about the screwdriver in his sock and he said it was for working on the chain on his bicycle.

District Judge Francis Rafferty, addressing the defendant’s solicitor, said: “Well, we’re all waiting with bated breath…what’s a Highlander?”

The solicitor responded: “I’m not sure it applies in this jurisdiction.”

Judge Rafferty quipped: “I’m curious is what jurisdiction it might apply in. So he’s not a sovereign citizen or a freeman of the land – he is a Highlander? And that gives permission to possess and use cannabis….not in this jurisdiction but maybe in another reality.”

Phillips was released on his own bail of £500 and ordered not to travel in a private car or cycle a bicycle. His case was adjourned until April 12.

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