Judge praises woman left a paraplegic after car crash

A Hungarian man who left his teenage girlfriend a wheelchair-bound paraplegic when he crashed his car has been jailed for eight months.

Wednesday, 4th July 2018, 8:45 pm
Updated Monday, 16th July 2018, 5:07 pm

Despite the jail term handed to 28-year-old Beres Szaboles at Newtownards Crown Court, he will soon be free as he has already served the equivalent while on remand.

Jailing Szaboles and imposing a five-year driving ban, Judge Piers Grant paid tribute to the courage and determination of his then girlfriend Anastasia Kravstova who sustained horrific injuries in the car crash.

Reminding the court that no sentence he could impose was a measure of her worth, the judge said it was clear from the reports before him that 19-year-old Miss Kravstova is “a remarkable, stoic and courageous young woman who does everything to live with her disability and to make the best of her clearly very difficult life and she is to be commended for that”.

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On the morning his trial was due to start last month Szaboles, with an address at Hillfoot Crescent in Ballynahinch, pleaded guilty to causing her grievous bodily injury by driving carelessly on the Magheraknock Road in the town in March 2015.

Ms Kravstova suffered multiple injuries in the one-vehicle accident and has been left in a wheelchair as a result.

Before he was initially charged, Szaboles fled NI but was detained in Copenhagen on February 12 under a European Arrest Warrant obtained by the PSNI.

In court on Wednesday, Judge Grant said Miss Kravstova was the front seat passenger in Szaboles’ MG ZT car.

Driving conditions were ideal in that the road was dry and fairly straight but with a number of crests said the judge, adding that it was as he came over one of those crests that Szaboles lost control.

Judge Grant told the court that according to a report from a forensic expert, Szaboles’ car swerved as he tried to regain control but it impacted the verge, causing it to flip into a field where it ended up on its roof on top of a chicken coop.

He said the “central feature” in deciding the appropriate sentence was the quality of Szaboles’ driving, adding that even death being caused does not of itself justify a prison sentence and in this case, there were no aggravating factors.

He said Szaboles has expressed “real remorse,” was deserving of “full credit” for pleading guilty and for his almost clear criminal record.

The judge revealed that Szaboles, who holds dual Hungarian and Romanian nationality, has a previous conviction for the “attempted homicide” of his own father.

In 2008, a court in Budapest handed Szaboles an 18-month prison sentence but suspended it for four years. Judge Grant told the court that offence arose as a result of Szaboles protecting his daughter from her grandfather who had “flown into an alcohol-fuelled rage”.