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Driver mounted pavement at school as he fled police

Children were forced to scatter out of the way to avoid being run down.

Court: Goto told 'the almost inevitable penalty' is prison (file pic).
Court: Goto told 'the almost inevitable penalty' is prison (file pic).

A banned motorist drove at speed for 300 yards along a pavement outside a school, causing pupils to scatter out of the way to avoid being run down.

Geoffrey Goto, of Hoylake Place, Dundee, was trying to escape from police who had pulled him over on Lawton Road in the city.

The 31-year-old was spotted by a police officer who had been involved in an earlier dangerous driving case with him.

Goto's lawyer tried to argue the identification evidence of two officers who had pulled him over in the earlier incident was unreliable because his client is black and it was dark when they saw him.

He claimed it would be "harder for them to identify his features".

A jury disagreed found him guilty of 12 charges, including dangerous driving and an assault on a police officer.

Goto is due to be sentenced next month.

Fiscal depute Eilidh Robertson told the jury: "He drove in a horrendously unsafe fashion. It was only through sheer luck that no one was injured or even worse."

Dundee Sheriff Court heard that in the school incident on June 6 last year, Goto's car and description had been circulated by an officer who had seen him nearby.

Constable Sean Petrie, 25, said they then spotted Goto's Ford Fiesta outside the then temporary base of Harris Academy.

He said: "We pulled in front of him to stop him and I got out to go to his door. As I approached he began to reverse backwards.

"There was a lollipop man helping children cross in the middle of the road and he stopped just short of him.

"He then mounted the pavement - he travelled along it for about 300 yards towards the junction with Byron Street. There were parked cars on that side of the road so he was fully on the pavement.

He added: "On the other side of the pavement was the gates of the school playground."

"It was a sharp acceleration - he was going quick. There were children about and I saw a group of four schoolchildren walking towards his direction who had to take evasive action to avoid a collision.

"Two or three of them had to run into the carriageway to avoid the vehicle."

'This is a dark-skinned gentleman, it was dark - only street lighting - and your car's blue lights were flashing. These were not ideal conditions - you couldn't have picked out his features?'
Defence solicitor Paul Parker Smith

Almost six months earlier on January 9 last year, Goto had been pulled over in Macalpine Road after pulling out of a parking area at speed with no lights on in the dark.

During that incident he reversed away, going round a roundabout backwards before driving off at a speed so fast that officers had to abandon their pursuit on safety grounds.

Two officers said they got a clear look at Goto and identified him as the driver.

Defence solicitor Paul Parker Smith asked constable Darren Smith, 42: "This is a dark-skinned gentleman, it was dark - only street lighting - and your car's blue lights were flashing.

"These were not ideal conditions - you couldn't have picked out his features?"

Mr Smith said: "I am clear - he was the driver."

Defence solicitor Paul Parker Smith said: "He is originally from Zimbabwe and has been in the country for 15 years.

"He is currently unemployed. He met his partner around 10 years ago and they have three children together."

Sheriff George Way deferred sentence until next month for social work background reports and released Goto on bail meantime.

He said: "These are very grave matters. As dangerous driving goes it could only be made worse had there been actual harm or injury.

"Children were required to scatter. The car was driving on the pavement for 300 yards.

"He has to understand the almost inevitable penalty for that has to be prison."

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