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Tractor driver who caused friend’s death in crash given community service

Craigavon Magistrates Court

A tractor driver who admitted causing a fatal crash which killed his friend has been sentenced to a year-long community service order.

Ryan James Telford (26), of Woburn Road, Millisle, Newtownards, appeared at Craigavon Crown Court today (Wednesday) for sentencing.

He had previously pleaded guilty to the charge of causing death by careless driving of Philip William Capper, who died following an accident almost four years ago.

Mr Capper was a passenger in a John Deere tractor being driven by the defendant along the Back Road in Drumbo, Co Down, shortly after 9pm on July 6, 2018.

The 29-year-old, who was originally from the Annaghmore area and was a member of Battlehill Pipe Band in Richhill, died that evening.

Previous sittings heard how Telford “braked severely” after meeting a JCB coming the other way.

However, the brakes were only working on the near side because a locking pin, which conjoins the two brake pedals in a tractor, was not in place.

As a result, the near side wheels locked up and the tractor skidded through a hedge and into a field where it overturned and tragically crushed Mr Capper.

After he was arrested and interviewed, Telford said he knew about the brake locking pin but that “it’s not a thing that I would check because it’s always locked”.

“He said he had maybe checked it a few days ago,” a jury was told.

Under the community service order, Telford will be required to live in the Newtownards area and undertake 240 hours of unpaid work.

He was also disqualified from driving until March 14, 2023 and will have to resit his driving test.

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