Belfast Telegraph

Partner of murdered Jennifer Dornan jailed for dangerous driving

The partner of murdered Jennifer Dornan found stabbed to death in her home was jailed on Friday for 11 months for dangerous driving during a police chase through Belfast this year.

Martin Smyth (29), who address was given as c/o of Magilligan prison, had pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court to driving whilst disqualified, dangerous driving and having no insurance.

Prosecution lawyer Simon Jenkins told the court that in March this year police observed a black Volvo car being driven by Smyth towards the Westlink in the city.

At Great George's Street police signalled with sirens and flashing lights for the vehicle to stop but Smyth "acclerated away towards North Queen Street driving on the wrong side of the road and going through a red light'','' said the prosecutor.

During the police pursuit through north and west Belfast, the court heard Smyth jumped a number of red lights and went through a roundabout in the wrong lane.

Judge Patricia Smyth was told police deployed a stinger device at the Upper Whiterock Road before the Volvo came to a halt after colliding with a taxi on the Monagh Road and Smyth was arrested by police.

Mr Jenkins said Smyth had 172 previous convictions, 41 of which were for road traffic offences.

He added that at the time of the March incident, Smyth had only been out of jail three weeks, was a disqualified driver and had two previous convictions for dangerous driving.

Defence barrister Joe Brolly told the court that following Smyth's arrest his release licence was revoked and he had been returned to jail.

He said that the defendant's licence expires on March 4, 2020 but the Parole Commissioners was to review his case in September 2018.

Mr Brolly told the judge that since his return to prison Smyth had passed four mandatory drug tests and was now an enhanced prisoner.

Judge Smyth told the defendant: "This was a particularly serious of dangerous driving which was made all the  more serious as you were a disqualified drive at the time. You could have caused serious harm to members of the public on the road.

"It is an aggravating feature that you were on licence at the time of these offences and you have a relevant criminal record.''

She said he had suffered a number of "traumatic events in your childhood'' including the death of his mother in a road accident when he was aged six.

The judge also said that Smyth's partner had been murdered in 2015 and their children, now aged 12, nine and six, were being cared for by their maternal grand mother.

His 30-year-old partner Jennifer Dornan was found stabbed to death at her Lagmore View in the Lagmore estate in west Belfast.

Her killer then set fire to the house in a bid to cover his tracks. A man is awaiting extradition from the Republic over the murder.

The judged added: "You have three children and you have a responsibilty for them but until you deal with your addictions completely you are not going to be released.

"Your three children have now lost their mother. You are going to have exercise responsibilty and deal with these addictions.''

Judge Smyth handed the defendant a global prison sentence of 11 months and banned him from driving for 10 years.

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