Belfast Telegraph

Grieving Northern Ireland dad who caused £50k damage to 45 cars in showroom avoids jail

Frederick Young outside Downpatrick Crown Court
Frederick Young outside Downpatrick Crown Court

By Paul Higgins

A grieving father who caused almost £50,000 of damage at a Northern Ireland car showroom with a claw hammer walked free from court with a suspended jail sentence.

Suspending the two year sentence for three years at Downpatrick Crown Court, Judge Geoffrey Millar QC warned Frederick Young “be under no illusion that if you commit any further offences, particularly of this nature and particularly against the same victim, then that sentence will be put into effect.”

Having heard it was the second time that 64-year-old Young had gone on a wrecking spree at the Ballyrobert car showroom, the judge also imposed a five year restraining order, again warning Young that if he breached that order “you are liable to a custodial sentence.”

At an earlier hearing Young, from Breezemount Close in Conlig, pleaded guilty to a single count of causing criminal damage to 45 cars and 21 large panes of glass on 8 September last year.

Opening the facts of the case, prosecuting counsel Laura Ievers described how “two road users became aware of unusual activity” at the showroom when they heard “shouting and banging.”

While one approached a hammer wielding Young, the other “watched from the car” as the 64-year-old used the hammer to smash cars and windows said the lawyer, adding that police officers arrived within a short period of time.

The court heard that officers noted Young had “bloody hands and appeared distressed” and that when he was arrested, he made a “significant statement to the effect of ‘I smashed up the cars because those b******* put a photograph up of my son’s car crash’.”

Previous courts have heard how Young’s 33-year-old son Neil tragically lost his life very close to the Ballyrobert showroom in a one vehicle road traffic accident.

Ms Ievers said Young had smashed up 45 cars and 21 large panes of glass which cost £48,819 to fix and replace.

During police questioning, Young admitted damaging the cars and windows with the hammer he had brought from his home because he believed an employee had placed online an image from CCTV footage of his son’s accident.

Ms Ievers revealed that at the time of the incident, Young was subject to community service and probation orders arising from a previous similar incident in July 2017, hence her submission that a restraining order was “necessary and proportionate.”

Defence counsel Conor Holmes made no contrary submissions regarding such an order and revealed that since he pleaded guilty, Young had completed the community service and probation periods.

Submitting that the latest pre-sentence report “is possibly the most positive I have ever read,” the lawyer further argued that Young has now “come to terms with the death of his son.”

Imposing the suspended jail sentence, Judge Millar told Young he was aware of the background but the fact the he committed further offences against the same victim was clearly an aggravating factor.

Commenting that the image of his son’s accident appearing online was “at best insensitive and at worst, shameful actions” that caused significant hurt, the judge said it was clear the custody threshold had been passed but that given the background and his guilty plea, he felt able to suspend the sentence.

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