Jailed for causing life-changing injuries to girlfriend in car crash

A Limavady man who left his girlfriend with permanent brain damage after he crashed his car into a ditch on the Maydown dual carriageway has been jailed for four years.

Friday, 12th April 2019, 11:37 am
Updated Friday, 12th April 2019, 11:42 am

As a result of the injuries she sustained in the crash, the victim requires a major degree of care 24 hours a day; is ‘childlike’ in her ways and needs someone to be with her all the time.

She was described by her family as a ‘fun loving and active girl’ prior to the accident, but her injuries have been life changing in every way.

Passing sentence, Judge Philip Babington said the court ‘cannot diminish in any way the deep and permanent harm caused’ to the woman and her family by 20-years-old Conor McSorley’s offending.

McSorley, of Rathbeg Crescent, Limavady, pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily injury to his girlfriend by careless driving while drunk and when driving without insurance and without a licence.

McSorley committed the offences on the night of December 20, 2017.

He had bought the Renault Clio car involved in the crash for £200 earlier that day.

On the afternoon of the crash McSorley had driven his girlfriend and members of her family to Portrush.

During that journey he was warned about the manner of his driving and the defendant had given an undertaking to them he would drive properly.

Hours later, when he was alone with his girlfriend in his car, McSorley struck a kerb as he drove along the Maydown dual carriageway in the direction of Eglinton.

He was driving at 49 m.p.h. in a 50 m.p.h. zone.

The car rolled over, crashed into trees and ended up in a roadside ditch.

Two women stopped at the scene and saw the defendant emerge from some bushes.

They asked if he was hurt and he said something about a girl being stuck in a car.

McSorley denied he had been driving and claimed he had been out walking and came across the vehicle.

The court heard the women noticed the defendant was slurring his words and smelled of alcohol.

Another civilian, who was a first aider, also stopped and gave assistance to the injured party until an ambulance arrived.

The injured party had to be cut from the car and was immediately taken to hospital.

The woman had sustained a traumatic brain injury which was caused a significant neurological deficit.

Police arrived at the scene and they became suspicious about the defendant. They were anxious to identify the woman in the vehicle to contact her family, but McSorley again denied knowing her.

Officers performed a preliminary breath test on the the defendant, which gave a reading of 58 mgs of alcohol in 100 mls of breath.

He was arrested and during police interview the following day he claimed he had no recollection of how he came to be arrested or the accident.

McSorely replied ‘no comment’ to all other questions, including whether he knew the injured party.

Derry Crown Court heard the defendant has 58 previous convictions, including nine for road traffic offences.

He has three previous for diving without insurance and three for driving whilst disqualified through age.

Judge Babinton said the 20-year-old’s conduct at the scene was ‘unacceptable as the police only wanted to contact the injured party’s family and his behaviour only delayed that.’

He said there was no evidence of bad driving or speed and that the careless driving was the ‘turning of the vehicle to the left so that it hit the kerb.”

The judge added that the consumption of alcohol ‘may have contributed to what was a serious error of judgement by the defendant.’

Judge Babington imposed a determinate sentence of four years, half of which will be spent in custody and half on licence.

He also disqualified McSorley from driving for a period of five years.