Retired social worker sentenced for ‘serious’ crash

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A retired social worker who caused a head on crash when his car veered into an oncoming vehicle, was ordered to complete 160 hours of Community Service.

Antrim Crown Court heard that 69-years-old John Magowan was on his home when his Vauxhall Zafira, which belonged to the Western Health Trust, crossed the white line and veered into the path of a Landrover Discovery being driven by Ian Hull on December 28, 2013.

Mr. Hull, 70-years-old rally driver, was towing a trailer with a Proton rally car on board when the collision happened at around 5.00 p.m. on the Glenshane Road.

The court heard force of the “massive impact” was such that the engine of the Zafira car was thrown from it while the rally car ended up in a field at the side of the road.

Fortunately, paramedics who had been in the same rally Mr Hull had competed in, came across the scene and they were able to give first aid to both drivers who had to be cut from their respective cars.

Mr. Hull suffered multiple fractures to his right arm, pelvis and ribs and he was rushed to Altnagelvin Hospital where he “required aggressive resuscitation on arrival.”

Medics had to insert a metal plate into his arm and that in total, Mr. Hull spent four weeks in hospital as a result of the accident.

Magowan was also injured and he sustained a fractured Sternum, the court heard.

Magowan, from Tamworth Crescent, Kilfennan, accepted he had caused the impact but could not explain how his car veered into the oncoming lane, telling police he remembered starting his journey at the Juvenile Justice Centre in Bangor, but his next memory was waking up in the company of an ambulance crew.

He was initially charged with causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving but pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of causing GBI by careless driving.

Magowan’s defence counsel said the accident which “had very serious consequences and could have been fatal.”

He submitted that Magowan had shown “genuine remorse” and was a man of “good character” who had contributed positively to society.

Imposing the Community Service Order, Judge Millar said the case “should serve as a warning to everyone the risk of physical, mental and psychiatric consequences for even a moments inadvertence.”

He added: “All of us who get behind the wheel of a car must be aware that it can be an instrument of death and destruction and the consequences for drivers, passengers and other road users can be devastating.”

Turning to a potential driving ban, Judge Millar said he was faced with a man with a clear driving record of 50 years. He described the case as ‘unique’ and imposed 10 penalty points.