Belfast Telegraph

Driver who caused serious injuries in head-on collision given suspended sentence

By Staff Reporter

A trainee pilot from Essex who caused serious injuries to two people by performing an overtaking manoeuvre in Co Tyrone has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Eddie Achunche (42), of Church End, Harlow originally denied causing grievous bodily harm to the victims by dangerous driving.

However he later changed his plea.

Dungannon Crown Court heard Achunche, who is originally from Africa but came to England 20 years ago, was driving a hired car from Belfast to Enniskillen at 8.30pm on April 4, 2015, with his wife and two children on board. On reaching the A4 Annaghilla Road, Augher he was behind a car, which in turn was behind a learner driver.

The learner was travelling at around 40mph, and the vehicle he was immediately behind pulled out to overtake. Thinking the road was clear, Achunche attempted to do the same, but a car was approaching on the opposite side.

The defendant braked and tried to pull back in, but it was too late and he collided head-on with the oncoming vehicle. The male driver and his female passenger sustained serious injuries, with the male's described as life threatening.

Achunche and his wife were also seriously injured.

A defence barrister said his client had expressed "genuine remorse and is not asking for sympathy".

Judge Stephen Fowler said: "It's clear the defendant decided to follow the car ahead of him. That was more than a momentary lapse in concentration and resulted in quite dreadful consequences."

It was accepted Achunche was driving on a road unfamiliar to him and had approached a blind bend.

However, Judge Fowler noted the incident was an error of judgment and he was "satisfied the overtaking manoeuvre was not deliberate risk-taking".

Dressed in a grey suit, white shirt and blue silk scarf, Achunche, who took notes in the dock throughout the hearing, was handed a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He was also disqualified from driving for 12 months.

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