Northern Ireland

Strabane man Declan Murray ignored epilepsy advice and caused crash

Londonderry Crown Court
Image caption A judge at Londonderry Crown Court warned Declan Murray he was going to jail

A epileptic man who ignored medical advice never to drive again, was told on Wednesday he would be jailed for critically injuring a woman in a crash.

Declan Murray, 44, from Main Street in Strabane, crashed into an oncoming car driven by a 60-year-old child minder who had two children in her vehicle.

Twelve days beforehand a consultant neurologist told him never to get behind the wheel of a vehicle again.

He diagnosed Murray as an epileptic who had numerous seizures.

The consultant also told Murray to inform the DVLA of his medical condition, which he did not do.

Murray pleaded guilty to a charge of causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving.

He committed the offence on the Victoria Road between the villages of Newbuildings and Magheramason on 29 May, 2012, after he had what he believed was an epileptic seizure.

Head-on crash

A Public Prosecution Service barrister told the judge at Londonderry Crown Court that Murray was driving his van towards Strabane when the vehicle suddenly veered across the white line. It crashed head on into an oncoming car which was being driven by the child minder who had children aged five and eight in the back seat.

The two children sustained minor injuries, but the child minder suffered multiple fractures to her legs and ribs and the prosecutor said such was the severity of her injuries that she was unconscious, unresponsive and paramedics believed her life was at risk.

The victim was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital where she spent the following six weeks in intensive care. She was discharged from hospital six months after the crash.

The prosecution barrister said the injuries the child minder suffered were life-changing and she now needed a crutch to walk.

"The injured party is present in court today to see justice done, but she says she is not here for vengeance and she is not arguing for any particular sentence", the barrister said.

A defence barrister said Murray, who suffered a broken sternum in the crash, was "absolutely saddled with remorse".

"He accepts he is going to jail. He accepts he caused catastrophic injuries and suffering to an entirely innocent and blameless woman," the barrister said.

The judge said he would sentence Murray next week and remanded him in custody.

"He is going to jail," the judge said.