Guilty plea spares crash driver from jail


A guilty plea by a young north Belfast man to injuring two people by his careless driving two years ago has saved him from a jail sentence.

Instead of prison, 21-year-old Barney Joyce from Flax Street was freed when his two-year sentence was suspended for three years.

Belfast Crown Court Judge David Smyth QC told Joyce that since he had now “accepted responsibility ... that really persuades me that the appropriate sentence should be suspended”.

Judge Smyth, who told Joyce he should “regard this then as a wake-up call”, said there were other exceptional circumstances to the case, in particular the value of his guilty pleas to the prosecution.

In addition to the suspended sentence, Joyce was also banned from driving for two-and-a-half years for the careless driving on Belfast’s Upper Springfield Road on January 13, 2015 in which his cousin and the driver of another car were injured.

Crown barrister Peter Magill, who told the court that Joyce was also injured in the crash when he lost control of the Ford Focus car he was driving, said the prosecution would have had difficulties in the case but for his guilty plea.

It was for that reason, added Mr Magill, that Joyce deserved full credit for pleading guilty.

Defence barrister, Ian Turkington, said that Joyce had wanted it made clear that he accepted full responsibility for the accident and that he offered his fulsome apology for his driving.

Mr Turkington added that the root cause of what happened when Joyce lost control of the car on a sweeping bend was a combination of speed coupled with Joyce’s inexperience as a driver.