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Epileptic told to quit driving is jailed over crash which seriously injured motorist

By George Jackson

Published 26/05/2016

A man who started a fire in his family's north Belfast home while his sister and her friends were inside the property has been jailed
A man who started a fire in his family's north Belfast home while his sister and her friends were inside the property has been jailed

An epileptic man who crashed his car and seriously hurt another motorist after ignoring medical advice to never drive again has been jailed.

Declan Murray (44), from Strabane, was driving a van when he ploughed head-on into Roberta Robinson's car between Newbuildings and Magheramason.

Registered child-minder Mrs Robinson (60) was trapped in her Peugeot 106 for an hour and was so badly hurt that paramedics feared she would die.

Two children aged eight and five who were in her vehicle escaped with minor injuries.

Mrs Robinson suffered two collapsed lungs and a series of life-changing injuries, and was in an intensive care unit for eight weeks. She now needs crutches to get around.

Murray pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving over the crash on November 29, 2012.

A prosecution barrister told Londonderry Crown Court that Mrs Robinson was "seeking justice, not vengeance".

He added that medical records showed that 12 days before the crash a consultant neurologist told Murray to avoid driving and inform the DVLA of his illness.

Earlier the same month Murray's GP had also told him to stay off the road.

Judge Philip Babington accepted that the defendant regretted his decision to drive and was sorry for the pain he caused Mrs Robinson and her family.

But he added: "In this case I am satisfied that there is one substantial aggravating factor, and that is that the defendant drove when he was knowingly suffering from a medical condition which impaired his driving.

"Indeed, he had been told by two different doctors - his GP and a consultant - that he should not be driving and that he should contact the DVLA.

"He attended to none of those matters. This is particularly serious because the two warnings from two doctors came in the four weeks prior to this accident.

"It is quite clear to me that the defendant ignored medical advice. The outcome of that was that Mrs Robinson sustained these life-changing injuries through no fault of her own.

"After taking everything into account, I feel that the appropriate sentence in this case is one of three years. The defendant will serve half of that sentence in custody with no remission, followed by the other half on licence in the community.

"The defendant will also be disqualified from driving for five years, although it is perhaps more likely that due to his medical condition he will not be able to obtain a licence at all."

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