Jailed for causing ‘life changing injuries’ in crash

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

A man who caused ‘life changing injuries’ to a woman in a crash after receiving medical advice not to drive, has been jailed for three years.

Declan Murray, of Main Street, Strabane, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving on November 29, 2012.

Derry Crown Court heard the victim was trapped in her car for over an hour after the crash and her life was in danger as a result of her injuries.

The woman was in Intensive Care for eight weeks and was detained in hospital for six months in total.

She sustained serious injuries to her legs, knees and ankles and fractures to her ribs.

The victim also sustained two collapsed lungs and had to have two chest drains inserted and two Tracheotomies.

Two young children, aged five and eight, who were in her car, sustained minor injuries.

One of them sustained an injury that required four stitches and the other an injury to the abdomen.

The court was told Murray was driving his transit van along the Victoria Road, just outside Magheramason, when he crossed the white line.

He collided head on with the victim’s car with ‘considerable force’ and caused ‘very substantial damage.’

The 44-year-old was spoken to at the scene. He was confused and said he may have had a seizure.

During police interview, he said he was being treated for Epilepsy and admitted he had been told not to drive.

In the four weeks before the accident Murray had been told by his GP and a consultant that he should not drive and should inform the DVLA of his Epilepsy.

The court was told Murray ‘regrets his decision to drive that day’ and is ‘sorry for the pain and hurt he has caused to the injured party and her family.’

Passing sentence, Judge Philip Babington said the victim sustained life changing injuries through ‘no fault of her own.’

He said the injuries are ‘of a most serious and life changing nature’ and ‘it is a sad fact that nothing that this court can do will in anyway change that. One can only hope that there may be some improvement for her.’

The judge said an aggravating factor in the case was the fact that the defendant drove when he was “knowingly suffering from a medical condtion which significantly impaired his driving skills,”

Murray received a determinate sentence of three years, half of which will be spent in custody and half on licence.

He was also disqualified from driving for four years.