A passenger who grabbed hold of his girlfriend’s steering wheel and crashed her car into a petrol station wall has avoided prison.
Imposing a four-month suspended sentence on George Phillips for an accident that ran up a £5,000 repair bill, a judge told him: “You could have killed somebody.”
Phillips, 22, was convicted of dangerously interfering with a motor vehicle travelling on north-east Belfast’s Holywood Road in May this year.
The city’s Magistrates’ Court heard he seized control of the steering wheel without warning during a row with his girlfriend.
His actions forced the vehicle to collide with the front wall of a Maxol garage.
A prosecution lawyer said the accused, of Bloomfield Street in Belfast, made full admissions and expressed remorse after he was arrested.
She revealed that one section of the damage cost £1,900, while the bill for rebuilding the wall will be in excess of £3,000.
Phillips is also paying for repairs to his girlfriend’s car.
A defence solicitor claimed it has been “a momentary lapse of judgment” while the couple argued.
She also stressed her client is suffering from mental health problems.
District Judge Peter King said the incident must have been “absolutely terrifying” for other road users.
He told Phillips: “You could have killed somebody, not only yourself, but either your partner or somebody in the garage forecourt.”
Suspending the four-month prison term for 18 months, the judge added: “This sort of behaviour, regardless of what issues you have in your life or relationship, can never be tolerated.”