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Car dealer has death crash prison sentence reduced to community service

Court

A 43-year-old Co Tyrone car dealer, whose careless driving caused the death of a pensioner, has had his sentenced reduced from a prison term to community service.

Damien Maguire, of Knockonny Road, Ballygawley, and owner of the Renault, Kia and Dacia car dealership, TC Autos in Omagh, had his four month custodial sentence reduced to 240 hours community service, reports the Belfast Telegraph. He is also banned from driving for three years.

Judge Neil Rafferty QC told the family of 69-year-old pensioner Eileen Maguire, "nothing I can say or do can bring back Eileen Maguire”.

Along with her death the crash, in November 2013, injured three others including Damien Maguire’s wife in a three-vehicle smash. He was also hurt.

The judge said he was "left with the firm view that justice cannot be served by a sentence of four months" and taking advice of senior Law Lords, and having thought "very long and hard", he would impose the community service order.

Judge Rafferty said the "one thing I will take away from this case is just simply how unfair life can be.

"Everyone in this case is entirely decent and honest hard working human beings and not deserving of the misery that occured.

"I genuinely hope that the Maguire (victim's) family take some comfort and move on from the loss of a mother and wife," said the Judge.

Earlier he told Maguire that while he had no "visual cue" in the eight to 10 seconds before the crash, he had seriously failed to appreciate that the cars in front "were getting closer and closer and closer" regardless of "whether or not brake lights were illuminated".

In his sentencing remarks, Judge Rafferty said the case was "a very difficult one to analyse" and to "pigeon hole" with regard to the category of Maguire's careless driving which had such tragic and devastating consequences.

The judge said having "given careful thought" to the circumstances he concluded that "the defendant's driving falls into the middle category" of carelessness, but not at the "higher end of carelessness".

Maguire, he said deserved credit for his guilty pleas, in addition to which was his pre-sentence report which spoke "of a man of 43, married, and father of three children, aged 11, 9 and 6", and whose wife, like himself was seriously injured in the crash.

Prior to the tragedy, said the judge, Maguire "lived an absolutely blameless life, he has succeeded in business, and contributed to the community, engaged in charitable work".

Acknowledging the "absolute sense of loss ... and level of pain and devastation" felt by the whole family, the judge said he had to adhere to "certain guidelines" in deciding on the appropriate sentence.

In addition to his guilty plea to causing the pensioner's death, Maguire also admitted causing grievous bodily injury to Mrs Maguire’s husband James, their son Connor and his own wife Joanne, as a result of the collision on the Belfast Road in Fivemiletown on November 1, 2013.

Those injuries, said the judge, have been both "serious and life changing".

The car dealer, added the judge, was also injured, but "there was absolutely nothing prior to this that was remarkable to the defendant's driving in anyway.  He was driving at a safe distance and within the speed limit".

Maguire and his wife Joanne also both suffered a number of injuries, including a broken pelvis and back injuries.



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