Man avoids jail after £33k damage in five-car pile-up

Man avoids jail after £33k damage in five-car pile-up

22 June 2022

AN Ardglass man who crashed into five parked cars leaving a scene “reminiscent of the aftermath of an explosion” has been given a 15-month suspended prison sentence.

Ruairi Fitzsimons (25), of Killough Road, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving in Castlewellan on July 14, 2020, when approximately £33,000 worth of damage was caused to the vehicles.

During a hearing at Downpatrick Crown Court sitting at Laganside on Friday, Judge Geoffrey Miller suspended the prison sentence for three years and also banned Fitzsimons from driving for three years.

Judge Miller told the court that the defendant had been travelling along the Clarkhill Road at around 7pm on the day of the incident when a resident of a row of houses, where the cars had been parked, heard what he described as “a loud bang akin to a bomb”.

When he came out to see what happened, he found his car had been knocked off the driveway into a neighbour’s garden, propelling a second parked car, in the neighbouring house, into the road.

Fitzsimons then struck a third parked car, pushing it into the road, before hitting a fourth parked car and a fifth before finally coming to a halt. The court heard that Fitzsimons had to have crossed the opposite lane of traffic plus the footpath to have collided with the parked cars, with estimates putting his speed that evening at around 55mph.

Judge Miller said photographs of the incident showed “a scene reminiscent of the aftermath of an explosion” following a “spectacularly bad piece of driving”. The judge added that in his defence, Fitzsimons had said the incident had happened because he had swerved to avoid hitting a dog.

The court was told that the defendant, who had set up his own joinery company, came from a very “high achieving” family and “settled” home life, but that he had a conviction for careless driving in 2016.

Sentencing him, Judge Miller told Fitzsimons that it was a “miracle” no one had been hurt or killed as a result of his driving.