Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland 'Joyrider' who drove at speeds of 120mph jailed for six months

A so-called joyrider who drove a stolen car at 120mph along with a relative of the man who killed his father was handed a two-year sentence yesterday
A so-called joyrider who drove a stolen car at 120mph along with a relative of the man who killed his father was handed a two-year sentence yesterday

By Paul Higgins

A so-called joyrider who drove a stolen car at 120mph along with a relative of the man who killed his father was handed a two-year sentence yesterday.

Fionbar McMahon (20) was ordered to spend six months in custody and 18 months on licence, while his co-accused and passenger in the stolen Vauxhall Astra, Francisco Notarantonio (19) walked free from court with a three-year probation order.

As part of their licence and probation periods, Craigavon Crown Court Judge Roseanne McCormick QC ordered the pair to complete various probation programmes designed to reduce their likelihood of committing further offences.

She barred both men from driving for three years and warned them that if they committed any further offences or breached their licence or probation orders, they would face almost inevitable further periods in custody.

She told their defence lawyers: "It's with some hesitation that I will adopt this course by giving them a last chance to walk the walk on the basis of the submissions made during the pleas."

The judge said she was stepping away from the usual 50/50 ratio of sentencing to impose a longer period of licence on McMahon and giving Notarantonio a probation order because she felt "both need support in the community".

The judge had earlier heard that having stolen a Vauxhall Astra, on September 10 last year McMahon drove so fast along the M1, at speeds up to 120mph, he made it from Lisburn to Belfast in just three minutes.

Alongside him in the passenger seat of the stolen car, and in the dock, was Notarantonio.

When he was aged six in 2006 McMahon witnessed his father Gerard Devlin being stabbed to death in Ballymurphy by Francisco Notarantonio (31), a relative of his co-accused.

McMahon, with an address given as c/o Hydebank YOC, and Notarantonio, from Whitecliff Parade in west Belfast, had both admitted aggravated vehicle theft with the stolen car driven dangerously while McMahon admitted a further count of driving without insurance.

Prosecuting lawyer Nicola Auret described how the Astra was stolen late on September 9 but in the early hours of the morning, police spotted it at a McDonald's drive-thru at Sprucefield.

A pursuit ensued when the Astra sped away, but when it topped speeds of 120mph the officers pulled back and a PSNI helicopter took over as it raced along the motorway to Belfast.

Footage from the helicopter camera "showed that it took three minutes for the car to reach from the on-slip at Lisburn to the off-slip at Broadway roundabout", said the lawyer.

McMahon and Notarantonio were arrested a short time after they got out of the car and during police questioning McMahon admitted being the driver and that his driving was dangerous while Notarantonio "gave a no comment interview".

Ms Auret submitted the "formidable criminal records" of each defendant was an aggravating feature as was the fact that Notarantonio was on court bail and McMahon was in breach of three suspended sentences at the time.

Martin Morgan, defence counsel for McMahon, had submitted that his client's early life and development had been blighted by witnessing his father being killed.

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