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Lurgan driver who narrowly missed two children following hit and run jailed

'If he had struck them, obviously they could be dead or have life-changing injuries and he'd be in the Crown Court looking at years instead of months'

A Lurgan man who narrowly missed two children following a hit and run has been sentenced to five months in jail and banned from driving for two years.

Hugh Francis Boyce, of Watsonville, appeared via videolink from Maghaberry before Armagh Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry Courthouse on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old was charged with dangerous driving, failing to stop, remain and report a damage-only accident, using a motor vehicle without insurance, driving without a licence, resisting police, assault on police, failing to provide a specimen of breath for a test and driving with excess alcohol in breath.

The court heard that on December 3 last year, police attended an address in Markethill to a report of a hit and run involving an Audi and a Ford Fiesta. Several witnesses identified the driver of the Audi as the defendant and witnessed it collide with the Ford Fiesta as it reversed from its driveway.

The witnesses challenged the defendant to stop, but he continued to drive off. In doing so, he mounted the pavement, “narrowly missing” two children aged 15 and 8.

Following this incident, there were two further reports concerning the Audi. The first received stating that the defendant was driving the vehicle in Banbridge, believed to be drunk and allegedly nearly hitting another vehicle.

The second report that was received said that the Audi was driven into a parked vehicle in the Seagoe Hotel Car Park in Portadown, and that the driver had further threatened staff.

The Audi was later located in Tandragee Golf Club, where the defendant became aggressive and had to be escorted from the building, during which time he assaulted police.

The defendant was arrested and police requested that he take part in a preliminary breath test, which he refused.

He was interviewed and remained silent throughout, offering no explanation in relation to the questions raised. 

 Boyce’s defence solicitor, Tomás Boyd, told the court that the offences were “entirely out of his character,” and that alcohol had a “major part to play” in the incident.

However, he added: “I don’t think there’s any way of getting away with how horrendous the facts are in the way that they’re outlined.” 

 The defence explained that these were “very serious offences” and that his client wished to apologise to everyone involved.

He asked for credit for the defendant for entering a guilty plea.

District Judge Anne Marshall said that the defendant was charged with a “horrendous combination of offences.”

She commented: “There was a hit and run, he collided with a car, he narrowly missed two children and if he had struck them, obviously they could be dead or have life-changing injuries and he’d be in the Crown Court looking at years instead of months.  

“To compound all of that, when he was being apprehended by the police, he headbutted a police officer…. Whilst his record isn’t the worst for driving, it is atrocious in terms of assaults, particularly on police.”

District Judge Marshall imposed a total sentence of five months in custody, and banned the defendant from driving for two years.

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