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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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'Above the law' danger-driver would see prison as badge of honour - judge

A woman feared someone had been killed after a driver sped along a Carlisle street at 60mph before smashing into an oncoming car.

The witness was so relieved that the injuries to the driver from the car crashed into were not life threatening that she hugged him and said, “I thought you were dead.”

A judge at the city’s crown court said the man behind the wheel of the speeding car appeared to think he was above the law.

But she stopped short of sending Nathan Foster to jail as she feared he would see it as a badge of honour.

The 22-year-old, of Burnett Road, Harraby, Carlisle, caused a crash on London Road, one of the city’s busiest streets, on January 8.

One bystander described his car as going “at least 60mph, if not faster”, as it raced up the road.

The court heard that at about 10pm a police officer noticed a car driving quickly and erratically on Westrigg Road, Morton, before heading in the direction of the city centre. He pulled over the Vauxhall Astra, driven by Foster and told him to drive more carefully.

But 10 minutes later Foster was involved in a crash on London Road, near the River Petteril and Pizza Hut.

He had pulled onto the wrong side of the road to overtake traffic before ploughing into a car coming the other way.

The victims’ vehicle was pushed towards a drop onto the Pizza Hut car park but the driver managed to pull the handbrake on and stop. He suffered minor injuries, but a woman passenger broke an arm and had to spend the night in hospital.

Prosecutor Tim Evans said: “The defendant was interviewed and asserted that this was a momentary lapse of concentration when a cigarette was dropped in the car.

“He also said he was driving at 30 miles per hour and not speeding, and said, ‘To be honest with you, I’m a good driver’.”

The court was told about an incident in the early hours of December 27 when Foster grabbed a woman by the neck and took her phone outside a nightclub. A bystander told police that Foster and the woman began to argue while outside the Walkabout bar on Botchergate.

He then ran off before returning to grab her and take the phone, which was recovered later.

Mr Evans said that in January Foster crashed into a hedgerow near Back Street, Cotehill, and subsequently pleaded guilty to drink driving.

After the London Road crash and Botchergate incident he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and a public order offence.

Judge Barbara Forrester said: “You seem to think there’s nothing wrong with what you have done, that the law doesn’t apply to you and that you are above it.

“I suspect you would see prison as a badge of honour.”

Judge Forrester gave Foster a seven-month jail term, suspended for two years, a 24-month supervision order, and ordered him to undertake a thinking skills programme, an improving relationships programme and to complete 200 hours’ unpaid work.

He was put on a four-month curfew from 8pm until 6am, banned from driving for two years, told to pay an £80 victim surcharge, as well as £200 to the woman injured in the London Road crash and £100 to the male driver.

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