A drink-driver who left his girlfriend permanently brain-damaged after crashing the car they were travelling in has been sent to prison.
Conor McSorley was jailed for four years at Londonderry Crown Court yesterday.
The court heard he left his then 28-year-old girlfriend so badly injured that she is now childlike and requires 24-hour care.
McSorley (20), from Rathbeg Crescent in Limavady, Co Derry, had a total of 58 previous criminal convictions, nine of them for road traffic offences.
He pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily injury to the woman by careless driving while drunk, and guilty to driving while disqualified and without a licence.
He committed the offences on the night of December 20, 2017, one day after the victim's birthday and the day after he'd bought the car for £200.
McSorley lost control while driving along the Maydown dual carriageway from Derry in the direction of Eglinton.
His front left wheel struck the high roadside kerb, causing the car to career out of control along the road, overturn and strike several trees before coming to rest in a roadside ditch.
Two women who stopped at the scene alerted the emergency services.
They spoke to McSorley, who denied being the driver and who told them he had been out for a walk when he saw the car crash off the road.
Together with another civilian at the scene the two women gave assistance to the victim as she lay slumped in the car.
When the police arrived they were anxious to establish the identity of the victim, who had to be cut from the vehicle, in order to inform her family.
However, McSorley denied even knowing her.
Judge Philip Babington said the victim sustained life-changing injuries as a result of McSorley's driving.
She suffered a significant traumatic brain injury and was unable to protect her own airway.
Because she was unable to breathe unaided, a tracheotomy was performed eight days after the crash and she had to be tube-fed.
She remains with a significant neurological deficit and now requires supervision at all times.
"I have read victim impact statements from her mother and family," Judge Babington said.
"Between them they share caring responsibilities for their daughter.
"She is not able to look after herself and requires a degree of care 24 hours per day.
"The injuries that she sustained were life-changing in every way.
"Her mother says she was a fun loving and active girl prior to this accident, but now requires someone to be with her all the time.
"She has now been described as childlike in her ways. She has to use a walking aid.
"It is impossible for the court to fully understand her pain and the pain of her family, but I do express the court's sympathy to them."
Judge Babington said McSorley had committed a serious error of judgment.
"His conduct at the scene when he lied to civilians and police alike as to why he had come to be there was unacceptable and did him no credit," he said.
"The police wanted to contact the injured party's family and his behaviour only delayed that process."
As well as jailing McSorley for four years, Judge Babington also disqualified him from driving for five years.