Man who brought fire engine on joyride in Larne pleads guilty

Ross Clarke crashed into fire station wall, six terraced homes, seven parked cars and a lorry

The crashed fire engine in the front garden of a house in Larne last year. Photograph: PA Wire

The crashed fire engine in the front garden of a house in Larne last year. Photograph: PA Wire

 

A Co Antrim man who caused an estimated £1.5 million (€1.75m) damage when he took a fire engine on a joyride has admtted criminal damage and motoring offences.

During the incident in Larne during the early hours of March 5th last year, Ross Clarke crashed into the fire station wall, six terraced homes, seven parked cars and a lorry.

The vehicles were strewn across the road with the fire engine finally coming to a halt in the front garden of a house on Glenarm Road at about 4.30am.

The court heard Clarke (20) had never driven before.

He pleaded guilty to a total of 21 charges, including the aggravated taking of the fire engine and to causing damage to the Agnew Street station.

Clarke, originally of Fairway in Larne, but now with an address in Rathcoole, Newtownabbey, also admitted causing criminal damage to the six houses, a shop doorway, nine vehicle, including the fire engine, attempted burglary, dangerous driving, driving without insurance, and failing either to report, stop, or remain at the scene of an accident.

Antrim Crown Court Judge Paul Ramsey QC said he would review the case next month and set a possible date for his sentencing.

Defence barrister Neil Moore told an earlier court hearing that Clarke has a “severe learning disability”, and also revealed that he had never driven a vehicle before, which may account for the damage to Larne Fire Station as he attempted to reverse back into the depot.

The court also heard claims that at one stage Clarke did not go down one street because it was one-way and stopped the fire engine at a set of red traffic lights.