A DANGEROUS driver who drove for 300 yards at speed along a pavement outside a school, causing pupils to run into the middle of a busy road to avoid being run down, is facing a lengthy jail term.
Geoffrey Goto was trying to escape from police who had pulled him over on Dundee’s Lawton Road.
The unlicensed and uninsured driver had been spotted by a cop who had been involved with him in an earlier dangerous driving incident.
Goto’s lawyer tried to argue that the identification evidence of two officers who had pulled him over in the earlier incident was unreliable because Goto is black and it was dark when they saw him, saying it would be “harder for them to identify his features”.
But a jury disagreed and found him guilty of 12 charges – including two serious dangerous driving charges and an assault on a policeman.
Goto is facing a lengthy jail term when he is 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 Goto’s car and description had been circulated by an officer who had seen him nearby.
PC Sean Petrie said they then spotted Goto’s Ford Fiesta outside the then temporary base of Harris Academy in Dundee’s Lawton Road.
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.
“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.
“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 him 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.”
Almost six months earlier Goto had been pulled over in Macalpine Road after peeling out of a parking area at speed with no lights on in the dark.
Cops pulled him over but again he reversed away – this time 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.
But defence solicitor Paul Parker Smith asked PC Darren Smith: “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?”
PC Smith said: “I am clear – he was the driver.”
Goto, 31, of Hoylake Place, Dundee, denied 12 charges on indictment including two of dangerous driving – one committed on January 9 last year and the other on June 6 – as well as one of police assault, one of resisting arrest and eight other road traffic offences.
A jury of six men and nine women took an hour and a half to find him guilty of all 12 charges.
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.
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.”