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Driver who crashed into phone box caught after licence plate and VW badge found among debris

Court was told he left the scene at Market Street in Armagh after he 'panicked' because he was afraid of how his parents might react

An Armagh man who failed to notify police after colliding with a phone box, because he was afraid of his parents’ reaction, has been handed five penalty points.

The district judge told the 20-year-old: “You have one final chance to settle down and act responsibly behind the wheel of a car. It is not a toy or a play thing.”

Oisin Hughes, of Moy Road, appeared for sentencing on failing to report an accident, failing to remain at an accident scene and driving without due care or attention at the city’s Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry, on Tuesday.

Prosecution outlined that at 2.45am on December 8, of last year, police received a report of damage to a phone box on Market Street in Armagh.

The reporting person claimed to have heard a loud bang before seeing a Volkswagen Golf pass them at speed. A little further along the road they observed the damaged phone box.

Upon arrival, officers located within the debris a badge for a Volkswagen vehicle and a licence plate.

Checks showed that this car was registered to Hughes’ mother, with he himself being named on an insurance policy.

Police attended the registered address but were unable to locate either the vehicle or the defendant.

Hughes was interviewed the next day and admitted to being the driver at the time of the collision.

The defendant told police he had been travelling at 25mph, when two people walked on to the road in front of him. He tried to brake but hit the accelerator instead and lurched into the phone box.

Hughes stated he did not phone police as his phone was damaged and he was afraid of his parents’ reaction to the damage caused to the vehicle.

District Judge Paul Copeland commented: “The only thing missing from this saga is the mention of a black dog.”

Defence barrister Conor Coulter stated this had been a “momentary distraction” and that his client had “panicked at the fury of his parents”.

He added that Hughes had stayed at a friend’s house that night in order to evade the “inevitable” reaction of his parents.

District Judge Copeland asked the question as to where this defendant had spent the evening prior to the incident.

Mr Coulter informed the court that Hughes had been attending a bar in Armagh for a friend’s birthday but commented: “There is no suggestion from the prosecution evidence that this man had consumed alcohol.”

He stated: “I have spoken to his father on a number of occasions. He has attended court on a number of occasions and is furious with his son’s behaviour.”

The defence stated that his client was described in references handed in to court as having a “bright future” and was currently undergoing an apprenticeship, for which his licence was essential.

He added that Hughes was still under the new driver legislation and that six penalty points would see the loss of his licence.

Addressing the defendant, District Judge Copeland said: “What you need to know is that the possession of a driver’s licence is a privilege, not a right.

“If you think for one moment that you can mislead the court that this accident happened in the way you described, you have another thing coming. I have big doubts about this.”

He continued: “With the interest of your father, your guilty plea and the references before the court, I am not going to disqualify you or direct that you do your test again.

“You have one final chance to settle down and act responsibly behind the wheel of a car. It is not a toy or a play thing.”

Hughes was handed five penalty points and was ordered to pay a fine of £300, along with the offender’s levy of £15, within 10 weeks.

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