Burnley reveller’s ‘blast’ in stolen car

First published in Burnley by , Court reporter

A 20-year-old man who had never had a driving lesson got behind the wheel of a car after he stole the keys while at a party.

Blackburn magistrates heard that Jonathan O’Neill later told police that he didn’t know how to work the windscreen wipers and had been driving at 70 mph with his head out of the window.

And when he crashed into a parked car O’Neill simply got into another car, taken by one of his friends from the same party, and went for a ‘blast’ until they burned out the clutch on that vehicle.

O’Neill, of Springfield Bank, Burnley, pleaded guilty to vehicle taking aggravated by dangerous driving, allowing himself to be carried in a vehicle taken without consent aggravated by damage, driving without insurance and other than in accordance with a licence.

He was committed on bail to Preston Crown Court for sentence after the magistrates ruled their powers were insufficient.

Alex Mann, prosecuting, said the defendant was one of four males who went to a house party at the invitation of a young girl.

When her parents returned they didn’t throw the guests out but instead offered them drinks.

“It wasn’t until the following day they discovered two cars, a Citroen and an Audi had been taken from the drive,” said Mrs Mann.

“The defendant and his friends were responsible.”

Mrs Mann said that by his own admission O’Neill had drunk at least eight cans of beer before driving the Citroen away from the party.

He had driven at up to 70 mph in a 30 mph zone before crashing into a parked car at the junction of Livesey Branch Road and Heys Lane.

“He said it was raining and he couldn’t work the windscreen wipers so he was driving with his head out of the window,” said Mrs Mann.

“This is a man who has only ever held a provisional licence and has never had a driving lesson.”

After the crash O’Neill and his passenger were picked up by their friends in the Audi which they later abandoned after burning out the clutch.

Jonathan Taylor, defending, said O’Neill deserved credit for being totally frank with the police. All the information as to the nature of his driving came from him,” said Mr Taylor.

“He admitted he could not work the windscreen wipers and so put his head out of the window, his speed and that he lost control of the vehicle.

“He has done everything he could to make amends and is extremely remorseful for what he has done.”

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