A restricted driver who fled after overturning his car in a crash that left a teenage girl passenger badly injured has been jailed for three months.
Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard John Curley, 22, had been “mucking about” by speeding up and swerving as the victim tried to fasten her seatbelt.
The girl, then aged 16, sustained spine and facial fractures, together with a large scalp laceration, in the single-vehicle accident on the city’s Upper Springfield Road in March 2016.
Curley, of Whiterock Parade in Belfast, was released on bail pending an appeal against the prison sentence.
The accident happened after he and a group of friends returned from a day trip to Newcastle, Co Down.
The victim was in the back seat of his Honda Civic with two other girls, while another male sat in the front.
According to prosecution counsel Stephanie Boyd one of those alongside the victim noticed she was not wearing her seatbelt and told her to put it on.
Referring to their account, the barrister said: “John started mucking about, speeding up.”
Curley reached a speed of about 40mph before swerving and overturning on a country section of road, the court heard.
He then got out and left along with his front seat passenger.
One of the girls also ran off after helping to pull the victim from the car, District Judge Fiona Bagnall was told.
A passer-by stopped at the scene and called an ambulance.
Mrs Boyd added: “Police later found the defendant and his friends hiding behind a car in a car park adjacent to a house on the Springfield Road.”
Curley was said to have struggled with an officer during his arrest.
He admitted charges of causing grievous bodily injury by careless driving, failing to report or remain at the scene of an accident, and resisting police.
Defence lawyer Mark McGarrity accepted his client had not “distinguished himself” by running off.
“That remains a source of considerable shame,” he said.
Mr McGarrity told the court Curley has intellectual difficulties, never attended mainstream education, and was an inexperienced driver having only just obtained his licence.
But Mrs Bagnall insisted he should have been more cautious due to his inexperience.
She described the case as coming close to the more serious offence of dangerous driving.
Imposing a total three-month prison term, the judge said: “There are aggravating factors within it in relation to his failing to remain.”
Curley was also disqualified from driving for three years.