Northern Ireland

Pensioner in 'Benny Hill' police pursuit

Benny Hill Image copyright VT Freeze Frame
Image caption Car chase was compared to Benny Hill sketch

A police chase of a pensioner through a public park was compared to The Benny Hill TV comedy show, a court has heard.

Robert McCann, 70, drove into Falls Park in west Belfast last month in a borrowed Mercedes car.

His lawyer said he panicked on seeing police because of some tobacco from Spain that he had been given.

The pensioner, of Divis Tower in the city, was banned from driving and fined £650 after admitting a series of motoring offences.

Woman pushing a pram

A defence lawyer told Belfast Magistrates' Court: "If it hadn't been so frightening for the people he narrowly missed, it would be comical."

Police tried to get McCann to stop after checks revealed no insurance for the car he was driving in the Falls Road area on 7 February, 2018.

A prosecution lawyer said the Mercedes failed to halt, instead travelling into the nearby Falls Park.

She told the court the car narrowly missed a number of pedestrians, including a woman walking a pram.

It was then abandoned before the driver fled.

'Utterly bizarre'

McCann was arrested close to the scene and subsequently made admissions.

In court on Wednesday he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, failing to stop for police, having no licence and using a motor vehicle without insurance.

His barrister described the case as "utterly bizarre".

He said: "He got in a friend's car to do a message and panicked when police wanted to speak to him.

"He had some tobacco that he had purchased from an individual who had brought it in from Spain."

The judge likened the explanation to something out of television sitcom Benidorm.

The defence barrister responded: "Or Benny Hill maybe. It was a moment of madness, thankfully no-one was hurt."

Imposing the disqualification and fines, the judge also ordered McCann to pay a further £15 offender levy.