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Highland teen who led police on 26-mile high-speed chase is sent to detention

By Ali Morrison

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Sheriff Gary Aitken.
Sheriff Gary Aitken.

A HIGHLAND teenager led Highland police on a 26-mile high speed pursuit on snow-covered roads while dodging stinger-style attempt to stop him in his tracks.

Duncan Maclennan, of Aultbea, was a disqualified driver at the time and in his father's car, Inverness Sheriff Court was told.

The former Croy teenager, now of Pier Road, Aultbea also phoned Police Scotland's control room to try and do a deal with them to make him stop.

But an unimpressed Highland sheriff saw no alternative to detention after hearing details of the incident which dates back to January 18 last year.

He heard that it was the 19-year-old losing control on a bend and ploughing into a snowdrift which eventually brought the pursuit to a halt.

Maclennan appeared for sentence at Inverness Sheriff Court having previously admitted illegally taking the vehicle, driving dangerously, while disqualified, and without insurance. He also pleaded guilty to having a lock-knife in his possession.

Sheriff Gary Aitken read a background report on the youth as well as perusing his previous convictions which revealed a history of road traffic offences.

Sending him to 10 months detention and banning him from driving for five years, the sheriff told Maclennan: "It is a miracle you didn't kill yourself or some other innocent road user. You have a very poor history of complying with the Road Traffic Act.

"Cars are not toys, they are potentially lethal weapons. Given the truly appalling nature of the driving, I do not consider anything other than a custodial sentence appropriate here."

Fiscal depute Victoria Silver told Inverness Sheriff Court that the chase began when police tried to stop Maclennan on Millburn Road, Inverness.

He had broken the speed limit but stopped briefly as the police pulled alongside, but then reversed away at speed, before heading on to the A9.

"Then he went out of sight. Later that same night police saw the car at a level crossing on Harbour Road but he did a u-turn and back on to the A9. Then occurred a lengthy chase where he was doing 60mph in a 30mph zone," Ms Silver said.

She added that Maclennan would straddle both lanes of the dual carriageway with the police behind to stop them overtaking, travelling across the Kessock Bridge, going round the Tore roundabout twice and on to Dingwall where he headed up towards Ullapool, again breaking the speed limit.

Ms Silver told Sheriff Aitken that he managed to swerve to avoid a police stinger and almost lost control as a vehicle approached as snow began to cover the road.

"Maclennan then accelerated to 86mph in a 60mph zone and phoned the police control room and tried to negotiate a deal, claiming he could not stop because his brakes were not working," Ms Silver went on.

The teenager entered the village of Contin at twice the 30mph speed limit, swerving to avoid the stinger a second time and now with three police vehicles in pursuit.

"He weaved along the road taking bends with restricted views on the wrong side and through the village of Garve as snow began to fall heavily. But he lost control outside Garve, rotated 360 degrees and came to a stop in deep snow.

"Police then arrested him and a routine search discovered a lock knife on the dashboard," Ms Silver concluded.

Defence solicitor Willie Young said his client "now fully appreciated the consequences of driving having been injured in an accident in February.

"He was living in this car and was homeless at the time. But he is now a young father and in a relationship. He fully realises that given his offending history, the court would be entitled to send him to custody. But it is a positive social work background report.

"He has not gone near a vehicle since this incident."

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