Motorist banned for a year for dangerous driving after dramatic crash

A motorist whose vehicle swerved off one of Northern Ireland’s busiest roads before careering across a filling station forecourt and slamming into a shop front has been banned from driving for a year and fined £200 after pleading guilty to dangerous driving.

Friday, 30th July 2021, 3:33 pm

Erin Ashfield (22), of The Knockans, Broughshane, had been driving at the A26 dual-carriageway between Antrim town and Ballymena on March 10 this year at 3.45pm when her Fiat 500 car veered into a sign and narrowly missed petrol pumps at Tannaghmore Services.

The defendant was present at Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena on Tuesday, where a prosecutor said police were passed by a Fiat 500 car.

After the vehicle was ‘tailgating’ another vehicle it took a “hard left turn at speed” into Tannaghmore Services narrowly missing a vehicle in the inside lane. Police were concerned about the standard of driving in the wet road conditions and they followed to speak to the driver. They discovered a “flattened road sign lying on the forecourt and the vehicle had crashed against the large glass windows at the front of the store”. The defendant admitted to police she had been travelling at “excessive speed for the conditions and for the manoeuvre”.

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The prosecution lawyer said the defendant “narrowly missed the fuel pumps”.

A defence lawyer said the defendant had been driving for three and a half years “without incident” before March 10. He said she accepts she was going too fast for the conditions. The lawyer said the defendant “panicked” and attempted to pull into the filling station which was a “lapse in her judgment”.

He said the defendant is a micro-biology student currently on placement and works with a food firm and also at Antrim Area Hospital.

The lawyer said his client had shown genuine remorse and was “mortified” at the damage caused and although she suffered some bruising she was aware others could have been injured.

The lawyer said the defendant had been attempting to pull into the filling station and had been overtaking a vehicle in front and had under-estimated how much time she had. He said she “still suffers panic attacks” from the incident

District Judge Nigel Broderick said it was a “good job” no one had been walking near the front of the shop.

He said from references the incident was “out of character”.

The judge told the defendant: “You are probably quite lucky there weren’t any significant injuries. I am going to put this down to inexperience and hopefully you have learned a salutary lesson”

As well as being banned for a year the defendant was also fined £200 and will have to re-sit her driving test.