A WEST Belfast youth was jailed on Thursday for three years for killing his best friend and seriously injuring a nun while driving a ‘run around car’ at speeds of up to 100 mph.
Jailing the 17-year-old at Downpatrick Crown Court, Judge Piers Grant described the defendant’s driving as “appalling’’, which he said had “seriously affected the next of kin of the deceased’’ Conan Daly and had caused his family “enormous grief and suffering’’.
Mr Daly, also from west Belfast, was a back seat passenger in the Jaguar car which crashed at speed into a vehicle being driven by a nun who the court heard yesterday suffered two broken legs as a result of the accident and can only walk short distances with the use of sticks.
But the court was told the nun “harboured no anger or bitterness’’ towards the juvenile.
The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had pleaded guilty to causing the death of Mr Daly almost two years ago on the Saintfield Road in Carryduff and causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving to Sister of Mercy nun Josephine McAteer.
He further pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, two counts of assault on police and causing criminal damage to a PSNI vehicle.
All the offences were committed on October 16, 2014 on roads between the junction of the Ravenhill Road/Ormeau Road roundabout and the Saintfield Road in Co Down.
The court heard Conal Daly was a rear seat passenger in the car but was not wearing his seat-belt at the time of the collision. He died of “several multiple injuries”.
Neil Rafferty QC, defending, said the youth suffered from ADHD and, at the time, he had just turned 16. He also had a number of “social issues’’ and had got involved with “serious drugs’’.
“And that is how he came to be driving around in this aimless way in what is ubiquitously called a ‘runaround car’ at 16 years of age. The people in the car were his friends. Conal Daly was his life-long friend.’’
The court heard that the youth had suffered a “significant brain injury’’ as a result of the collision.
Mr Rafferty added that there was “significant and genunine remorse in this case’’ which had been expressed to him by the defendant.
Passing sentence on Thursday, Judge Piers Grant described the death of Mr Daly as a “tragic and irreplaceable loss to his family, a loss they will have to carry for a long time, if not for much of their lives. No sentence this court can impose will bring him back.
“Mr Daly was unwise to have been in a car with you. His death is fundamentally your fault and responsibility.
“Taking all the aggravating and mitigating factors into consideration, the apppropriate sentence will be one of six years on count one of causing death by dangerous driving of Mr Daly.”
He added that the defendant would receive six years for causing grievous bodily injury to Sister McAteer, three years for dangerous driving and six months each for two counts of assault on police and causing criminal damage to a PSNI vehicle.
Stating that all the sentences would run concurrently, Judge Grant told the court: “He will spend three years in custody and three years on licence.’’
The judge also banned the juvenile from driving for seven years.