Belfast Telegraph

Driver who left man in wheelchair in police chase jailed

By Ashleigh McDonald

A motorist who left a man with life-changing injuries after hitting his car has been jailed.

David Anthony Joseph Barry was driving an unsafe BMW when he jumped a red light while trying to flee police during a high-speed chase across Belfast last year.

The 23-year-old, from Parkmore, Craigavon, Co Armagh, pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court to causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving.

He further admitted driving with no licence, without insurance and with excess alcohol.

The defendant was handed a sentence of four years and eight months, half of which will be served in custody.

He was also banned from driving for five years.

The court heard that such was the force of the 60mph side impact that the other motorist, who was wearing a seatbelt, was catapulted from his Peugeot car and landed on a pavement, where he was found unconscious and suffering from horrific fractures and internal abdominal injuries.

The victim, who now uses in a wheelchair is travelling to London this week for surgery, but the court heard that, because of the smash, he would never be able to work again.

Judge Patricia Smyth told him: "I appreciate that there is no sentence I can pass that can change things that have happened to you, and I deeply regret that.''

Sitting in the court in his wheelchair listening to proceedings through a head set, the victim replied: "Thank you."

Prosecutor Philip Henry told the court how officers on patrol at 1.20am on February 21 last year noticed a BMW on the Ballyclare Road in Glengormley with no rear number plate and its "mud flaps hanging off".

During a subsequent police chase, with sirens and blue lights, an experienced PSNI pursuit driver followed Barry's BMW out of Glengormley down the Antrim Road, onto the Shore Road, back out of Belfast City centre and onto the Antrim Road again.

The court was told the defendant jumped two red lights, mounted a pavement at a roundabout, "narrowly missing a police car that had stopped'' and hit speeds of up to 70mph.

Mr Henry said police deployed a stinger device near Belfast Zoo in bid to halt the vehicle, but Barry failed to stop and hurtled up into Glengormley village, passing people on the footpath who had just left a bar and restaurant.

Seconds later, the defendant passed through his third red light at the Hightown Road junction at an estimated speed of 60mph - twice the speed limit.

Mr Henry said: "The injured party was coming out of the Hightown Road in his Peugeot car and his son was in the passenger seat."

The prosecutor added that after the impact, both cars ended up facing in the same direction.

At the time of the incident, the injured man was 59. Despite wearing a seat belt, he was thrown from the car and was found lying on the pavement.

In a victim impact statement, he said the first thing he remembered after the collision was "waking up in hospital and screaming in pain".

"The victim impact (report) speaks for itself," Mr Henry told Judge Smyth.

"His injures were serious and very restrictive. This week he is to go to London for pre-planned surgery."

The man's son, who now acts as a carer to his father, sustained rib injuries in the crash.

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