Jail sentence after leading two police units on dawn chase through Clonoe

editorial image

A Coalisland man has been jailed after leading two police units on a dawn chase through Clonoe in which he assaulted two officers in an attempt to evade arrest.

Thaddeus McLernon, 27, from Ardmore Terrace, appeared at Dungannon Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

He pleaded guilty to two charges of assaulting a police officer and being drunk and disorderly. The court heard how the offences occurred after police were alerted to an incident at Clonoe Roundabout shortly before 7am on October 6.

Police, calling to the scene, saw three males by a car at a local garage, the court heard.

When police approached, the men fled the scene. Officers subsequently chased McLernon to a wooded area, and told him to stop. However, he kept running and when police tried to arrest him, McLernon responded by punching a constable in the chest and assaulting another.

When another police unit arrived, officers were able to restrain and arrest McLernon.

The court heard how the defendant had not attended a meeting with his probation officer, and thus there was no pre-sentence report available to guide the judge.

McLernon’s solicitor said it was unfortunate that the defendant had not engaged with probation services, especially given the fact that he had a previous criminal record and risked going to jail.

The solicitor told the court that McLernon had a job interview on the same day as the probation meeting and had given this priority, as he believed that employment would help him tackle his drinking behaviour.

The solicitor added that he granted McLernon did not have the power to give the job interview that priority.

District Judge John Meehan asked the solicitor why the defendant had not shown the probation officer the courtesy of excusing himself from the meeting.

The judge then went on to ask what exactly was McLernon’s employment history, pointing out that this would have been revealed by the probation report.

The defendant’s solicitor said that McLernon had worked in the past in ‘quarrying and spraying’ and had shown competency in securing employment. In fact, McLernon was due to attend a job interview after the court hearing, the solicitor said. He added that the defendant’s criminal behaviour had been linked to periods of unemployment in the past.

Judge Meehan told the defendant that he was well past the threshold for a custodial sentence, having been up in court before, and sentenced to jail.

The judge sentenced McLernon to three months each for the assault charges, and two months for the drunk and disorderly charge, the sentences to run concurrently, which McLernon is to appeal.