Pair in stolen Audi that caused horror pile-up in Belfast sentenced
Two young people from Belfast were sentenced yesterday for offences arising from a car crash in the north of the city during which a seven-month-old baby was injured.
Rachel Jordan and Conneth Johnston were passengers in a stolen Audi which was driven dangerously on several roads and which culminated in a multi-vehicle smash close to the Ardoyne shop fronts on the Crumlin Road.
Jordan (19), from Hannahstown Hill, was banned from driving for a year and given a 12-month conditional discharge, while 21-year-old Johnston, from Ventry Lane, was given a 12-month sentence which will be divided equally between custody and licence and was also banned from driving for a year.
Crown prosecutor James Johnston said it was accepted neither of the defendants either stole the Audi or were driving the vehicle, but both were in the car when it collided with other vehicles on July 3 last year.
Citing the collision as a "very significant accident", Mr Johnston told Belfast Crown Court "it's a miracle nobody was killed".
Mr Johnston revealed the Audi was stolen two days before the collision and on July 3 it was seen being driven dangerously around north Belfast, with reports made to police by members of the public.
The Audi firstly collided with a parked van on Clifton Drive and at around 6.50pm police tried to stop the vehicle using lights and sirens on the Crumlin Road. The Audi failed to stop and continued being driven in a dangerous manner before hitting several vehicles.
These included a Renault van driven by a male motorist, who was hospitalised with liver and spleen damage, and a Skoda which ended up on its roof and which had a seven-month-old baby onboard who sustained bruising.
Damage was also caused to two properties on the Crumlin Road.
While Jordan was not injured in the collision, co-accused Johnston was rushed to hospital and was in a critical condition for a period due to rib and pelvis injuries.
One eyewitness said that at the point of impact the stolen Audi "left the ground and was airborne, and went over the top of another car".
Stephen Toal, the barrister representing Jordan, said "her involvement in this was consistent with her life at the time" when she was taking drugs, adding "she has completely turned that around now and is drug-free".
Mr Toal also revealed his client is seeking support for mental health issues and is training for a career in childcare.
Defence barrister Des Fahy, representing Johnston, said last July's incident had a "dramatic impact" on his client, who was recalled from licence and returned to custody as a result of his involvement.
Both defendants admitted allowing themselves to be carried in a stolen vehicle which caused an accident where injury occurred, allowing themselves to be carried in a stolen vehicle which caused damage to other cars, and allowing themselves to be carried in a stolen vehicle which caused damage to property.
Judge Kevin Finnegan told Jordan she made a "stupid decision" to get into the car on the day in question and urged her to stay out of trouble.
He also told Johnston to "not make the same mistake again" of offending whilst out on licence.