A disqualified dangerous driver described as “an absolute menace to other road users” escaped going to jail because of the head injuries he suffered in his last road smash.
Belfast Crown Court Judge Patrick Lynch QC told 25-year-old Lisburn man Christopher Whyte his four previous driving convictions “emphasise the fact that it is not safe for you to be on the road”.
Prosecution lawyer David Russell said Whyte, of no fixed address, smashed a high powered Mitsubishi Lancer car into a lamp and bollards at the junction of Chichester and Victoria Street in Belfast's city centre in the early hours of July 22 last year.
Two passengers were seen to run off while Whyte, who was slumped over the steering wheel, was rushed to hospital with serious head injuries. The Mitsubishi car, which was a write-off, had been stolen earlier during a creeper burglary in Bangor.
Defence lawyer Seamus Lannan said that Whyte “has already paid a high price that is”, given the seriousness of head injuries, “significantly higher than any this court can impose”.
Suspending his two and a half year jail term for three years and disqualifying him from driving for a decade, Judge Lynch said Whyte will have to live with the consequences of the accident for the rest of his life.
He added that while his dangerous driving would inevitably attract an immediate jail term he was going to put Whyte “on his honour” not to drive again. Judge Lynch warned Whyte: “You cannot afford to be behind the wheel of a car, not only for yourself, but for everybody, and if you do, the book will be thrown at you”.