Soldier who killed Army officer in car crash spared prison
A soldier has avoided going to prison after he admitted killing an Army officer while "taxiing'' him from Belfast to their Co Down base.
Daniel Graham (23), whose address was given as St John Moore Barracks, Winchester, England, was handed down a combined community service and probation order at Craigavon Crown Court.
He had pleaded guilty to causing the death of Sergeant John Monteith by careless driving almost three years ago.
The court heard that Graham was driving his Vauxhall Corsa car on the Carryduff Road in Ballynahinch when he lost control at 2.08am on August 16, 2013.
No other vehicle was involved in the crash and the court also heard there were no witnesses.
Jackie Orr QC, prosecuting, told the court that Sgt Monteith was the front-seat passenger in the vehicle and that at the time of the accident the "weather was dry, the road was wet and there was no street lighting but the road was in good condition''.
Judge Patrick Lynch QC heard the soldiers, who were members of 2 Rifles infantry regiment, were heading back to their base at Abercorn Barracks in Ballykinlar, Co Down, when Graham lost control of the Corsa and "substantial impact'' was caused to the car when it careered down a bank and struck a tree.
Ms Orr said Graham was able to free himself from the car but Sgt Monteith was "unresponsive'' and was pronounced dead at the scene. Graham was taken to hospital and following a police investigation, the prosecutor said the defendant had no alcohol in his blood and had not been using his mobile phone at the time of the accident.
Sgt Monteith, the court heard, was not wearing his seat-belt at the time of the collision and had a "considerable amount of alcohol in his blood'' which had a reading of 278 microgrammes of alcohol to 100 millitres of blood.
Graham told police that he had been "in a rush'' to get back to Belfast to pick up other soldiers.
The court heard that an expert who examined the collision said that although he could got give an exact speed the car had been travelling at before the accident, he determined the car had struck the tree at a speed of 15mph.
Judge Lynch QC sentenced Graham to 100 hours community service and two years on probation, and banned him from driving for a year.