Athletics champion (18) caught doing almost twice his permitted speed whilst driving near Ballymena

Athletics champion (18) caught doing almost twice his permitted speed whilst driving near Ballymena

AN Irish athletics champion (18) caught doing nearly twice his permitted speed as a 'new driver' has been given five penalty points and fined £150.

Callum Baird (18), of Printshop Road near Loanends, was detected at the wheel of a Volkswagen Polo doing 87mph on August 11 this year at the Lisnevenagh Road near Ballymena.

The road has a 70mph limit but the defendant is only allowed to do a maximum of 45mph as an 'R' driver.

The defendant was not before Ballymena Magistrates but his defence solicitor John McAtamney entered a guilty plea on his behalf and accepted it was a "very high speed" for an R driver and there was "no excuse".

References were handed in to court regarding the defendant who is a student at Ballyclare High School who aims to go on to do physiotheraphy at university.

It was also heard he is the Irish U-20 400 metres running champion and a member of the Ireland 4x400 relay team and had been part of the "Ulster Rugby Team Development Squad".

Mr McAtamney said the defendant trains six days a week and his licence is "essential to allow him to get to athletics meetings in Antrim, Belfast and Dublin".

The solicitor said the defendant's father is a GP "doing a Covid vaccination clinic" and his mother is a consultant psychiatrist "so the parents have busy professional lives and are unable to drive him to a lot of these events and he is very much dependent on the car".

District Judge Nigel Broderick said: "He must be warned he has been given an opportunity to remain on the road. If he is caught doing any speeds again then he will most certainly be disqualified on the next occasion".