A Markethill teenager who left a female with two fractured femurs whilst driving unfit without a licence or insurance has been handed a suspended prison sentence.
Court heard the injured party received five surgeries during a one month and two day stay in hospital following the collision.
Davina McCullagh, of Ashgrove, appeared for sentencing on a total of eight charges at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday.
The 19-year-old previously pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily injury by careless driving, failing to produce a specimen of breath, being an unaccompanied L driver, using a vehicle without insurance, not displaying L plates, driving whilst unfit, having no driving licence and aggravated vehicle taking causing damage.
Prosecution outlined that on November 15, at 12.30am, police were tasked to a road traffic collision on the Ballygasey Road, close to Loughgall FC’s Lakeview Park ground.
Upon arrival, officers observed a black Vauxhall Zafira stationary on the road with its engine running. The vehicle had sustained extensive frontal damage.
A second car, a Vauxhall Corsa, was located in a hedge with significant damage with a female in a distressed state trapped inside.
She told police that shortly before their arrival a young female had come to ask if she was OK before leaving.
Approximately 20 to 30 metres away, officers located this defendant holding herself up against a wall. She appeared dishevelled and matched the description given by the injured party.
It was noted that McCullagh seemed to have suffered an injury to her foot and her eyes were glazed.
Checks showed that the Zafira belonged to the defendant’s mother and that she herself only held a provisional licence.
Following enquiries, McCullagh’s father arrived at the scene and stated that his daughter had taken the keys whilst at a family gathering.
A preliminary breath test was requested from the defendant but she refused to provide a sample.
Arrested and cautioned for the offences before the court, McCullagh asked police: “Is the wee girl OK?”
The injured party was taken to Craigavon Area Hospital, where it was found that she had suffered two fractured femurs along with fractures to her left wrist and right elbow.
During interview, court heard that McCullagh made some admissions but denied she had been driving on the wrong side of the road.
Defence barrister Conor Lunny stated: “Ms McCullagh is under no illusion of what your worship’s sentencing powers are…to put this in context, this is a fragile young girl, she had been at home and a verbal argument began with her mother.
“She took the most foolish, and indeed selfish, decision to the take the keys of the car and drive after consuming at least two glasses of wine. Her memory is hazy but this is a lady who has never come before the court before.”
Mr Lunny said that he accepted that the level of injury and the involvement of alcohol were “aggravating features” in the case
Pointing to one mitigating fact, he commented that, although not to the degree of the injured party, McCullagh had suffered a “badly bruised ankle”.
Deputy District Judge Philip Mateer stated that the defendant would be given credit for her plea and lack of record but commented that the victim’s statement of evidence was “distressful reading”.
Reading from the statement, court heard how the injured party had observed McCullagh’s vehicle approaching her in the middle of the road with full beam lights on.
The victim flashed her lights to indicate for the defendant to dip their beams but to no avail.
It was heard that the injured party had moved closer to the hedge as McCullagh’s vehicle came closer and closer to her own.
Then, the victim recalled her driver’s door being struck, closing her eyes, screaming and letting go of the wheel as her car spun.
It was outlined that the injured party had long term issues and received five surgeries during a one month and two day stay in hospital.
Deputy District Judge Mateer stated: “Any case causing injury to another human being is taken seriously by the court. The extent of injuries and extent of offending at the time are aggravating factors in this case.
“The mitigating factors are your youth and your previous good character.”
McCullagh was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for three years and was handed a disqualification for a period of three years.
In addition, she was also ordered to pay a fine of £550, along with the offender’s levy of £15, within 26 weeks.
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