East Belfast man jailed for killing brother in car crash

John Andrews was thought to be more than three times the drink-drive limit
John Andrews was thought to be more than three times the drink-drive limit

An east Belfast man who killed his older brother in a drunken car crash was yesterday jailed for nine months.

Jailing 27-year-old John Andrews at Newtownards Crown Court, Judge Piers Grant told him he had no doubt “you will have to carry a considerable burden for the rest of your life but it must be borne in mind that the burden is the result of your own doing – your brother didn’t have a choice, he was entirely innocent”.

“I readily recognise that any sentence imposed by me will not bring Marc back to his family and will do little to remove or repair the upset and hurt his death has caused, but the court must pass a sentence that has significant deterrence,” declared the judge.

Last month Andrews, from Rosneath Court in Dundonald, admitted causing the death of his brother Marc by careless driving whilst unfit to drive through drink or drugs on March 11 2013.

He also pleaded guilty to causing the death of his 32-year-old brother by careless driving and failing to provide a specimen of breath within 18 hours of the incident.

Speaking outside the court, grieving parents William and Ina Andrews said they had already lost Marc “and we probably lost a bit of John today”.

Describing the last two years as “very stressful”, Mr Andrews said the main focus now was “supporting our surviving son and stay together as a family”, while Mrs Andrews said that “life hasn’t been the same since Marc’s death”.

During an earlier court hearing, prosecution lawyer Samuel Magee said while Andrews had failed to give an evidential breath sample, there was evidence that he was more than three times the legal drink-drive limit when he crashed his Suzuki Swift into a stone wall and telephone junction box on the Deerpark Road in Portaferry.

Defence QC Terence McDonald made an impassioned plea to the judge not to jail Andrews because “in terms of the consequences for the family, it’s quite horrendous to contemplate”.

To send Andrews to jail for killing his big brother would “increase the grief of every person associated with this case,” submitted the lawyer.

Jailing Andrews, Judge Grant said he accepted his “genuine shock and remorse” for his brother’s death but that he was of the view that while his victim was a close relative, “that does not amount to exceptional circumstances”.

“I acknowledge the great loss suffered by all your family. Their grief at the loss of a son in such circumstances will remain acute for a considerable period, probably for the rest of their lives,” said the judge, who told Andrews he was sure that “as a surviving son you are even more precious to them than you were before”.

As well as the jail term, after which Andrews must spend a further nine months on licence, he was banned from driving for five years.