Two Irish scam artists dodged death after driving the wrong way on a motorway to escape French police

The cousins said they'd been in France so they could pray at Lourdes

The Palais de Justice at Auxerre. Photo: Google streetmaps

Eamon Dillon

TWO Irish scam artists who diced with death driving the wrong way down a motorway in France to escape police last weekend have been jailed.

The two cousins aged 22 and 24 said they were in the country to pray in Lourdes for the younger man’s mother who is confined to a wheelchair.

The incident began last Sunday after a woman at a service stop on the A6 motorway alerted the police about the pair trying to scam cash by claiming to be unable to get home.

When they were arrested they were found to be carrying a total of €8,000 of which €2,000 came from victims of their scam.

They fled the service stop in Guillon-Terre-Plaine, three hours south of Paris, in the direction of the capital but against the flow of traffic.

Motorists were immediately warned against using the stretch of motorway causing huge disruption in the area as they were pursued by police.

The pursuit came to an end 20 kilometres away in Avallon, according to the Lyon Republicaine news outlet.

The pair appeared in court in Auxerre on Wednesday charged taking hundreds of euro from three different people at different motorway stops, totalling €2,000.

They told victims they had been the victims of a theft and had no cash left to get home to Ireland.

In court they said the scams were committed on the spur of the moment and were not planned while on a trip to Lourdes to pray for the younger man’s mother.

They were asked by the judge: “€6,000, that was not enough for you to return?"

When it was put to them they were driving in the wrong direction if they were going home the 24-year-old said through an interpreter his GPS does not work very well.

The two defendants were also prosecuted for driving on the motorway in the wrong direction while trying to escape the gendarmes, endangering the lives of others.

The 24-year-old who was driving said he didn’t realise the police were chasing them and that police in Ireland wore different uniforms while he took the wrong side of the road out of reflex.

The court sentenced him to 18 months in prison while his younger cousin who holds a British passport was given nine months.

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