Belfast Telegraph

Teen left paralysed in car crash 'dismayed' by sentence given to ex

By Allan Preston and Paul Higgins

The father of a Lisburn teenager left paralysed after her former boyfriend crashed his car has said his daughter is "disturbed and disappointed" by his eight-month jail sentence.

Anastassiya Phillips (19), also known as Anastassiya Kravstova, suffered horrific injuries in a collision on the Magheraknock Road in Ballynahinch, Co Down, in March 2015.

Beres Szaboles was initially accused of causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving.

But just before his trial started last month the 28-year-old pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of causing grievous bodily injury by careless driving.

Szaboles, with an address at Hillfoot Crescent in Ballynahinch, was sentenced to eight months in prison and banned from driving for five years.

It means he will soon walk free as he has already served the majority of his sentence on remand.

Ms Phillips' father Paul said the family were deeply disappointed the Public Prosecution Service withdrew the more serious charge.

"Anastassiya is very disturbed by the result today. She's relieved that it's all over and he's sentenced, but very, very disappointed by the judicial system and the case the PPS presented," he said.

Last month the PPS explained it accepted the plea to careless driving after reviewing recently received forensic evidence.

A spokesman said the new evidence meant it was clear there was no longer a reasonable prospect of conviction for dangerous driving.

He added: "This decision was made in accordance with the PPS Code for Prosecutors, and we have met with Anastassiya and her family to explain how this decision was reached."

At Newtownards Crown Court yesterday, Judge Piers Grant paid tribute to "a remarkable, stoic and courageous young woman" and said no sentence would reflect her worth.

Ms Phillips suffered multiple injuries in the one-vehicle accident and has been left in a wheelchair as a result.

Before he was initially charged, Szaboles fled Northern Ireland, but was detained in Copenhagen on February 12 under a European Arrest Warrant obtained by the PSNI.

In court Judge Grant recounted the facts of the case. He said Ms Phillips was the front seat passenger in Szaboles' car.

Driving conditions were ideal. The road was dry and fairly straight but with a number of crests, said the judge, adding that it was as he came over one of those crests that Szaboles lost control.

He told the court that a report from a forensic expert said the defendant's car swerved as he tried to regain control but it hit the verge, causing it to flip into a field, where the car ended up on its roof on top of a chicken coop.

The judge said that while the injuries sustained by Ms Phillips were "catastrophic", the "central feature" in deciding the appropriate sentence was the quality of Szaboles' driving, adding that even death being caused does not of itself justify a prison sentence, and in this case there were no aggravating factors.

He said the defendant had expressed "real remorse" and was deserving of "full credit" for pleading guilty and for his almost clear criminal record. Judge Grant revealed that Szaboles, who holds dual Hungarian and Romanian nationality, has a previous conviction for the "attempted homicide" of his father.

In 2008 a court in Budapest handed Szaboles an 18-month jail sentence but suspended it for four years, and Judge Grant told the court that offence arose as a result of Szaboles protecting his daughter from her grandfather, who had "flown into an alcohol-fuelled rage", so he had been acting in defence of another.

Turning back to the driving offence to which Szaboles had admitted, he said it served as a warning to road users.

Belfast Telegraph

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