NI blackout driver jailed for fatal road crash

A Northern Ireland woman who caused the death of a passenger in another car after she blacked out while driving has been sentenced to 15 months in jail, though she will serve only 5 months in prison, with the remainder under supervision.

Mary McLaughlin, aged 47, blacked out while driving at the M5 roundabout in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland. She crashed into another car, causing the death of 27 year old Rebecca McManus, who was seated in the rear seat of the other car. Ms McLauglin was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving, and causing grievous bodily injury to 4 other people in the car she crashed into.

The prosecuting solicitors argued that Ms McLaughlin "knew very well it was dangerous" for her to drive even though she had a valid drivers license, and despite being aware of the dangers posed by her medical condition, "she carried on regardless of that danger".

Ms McLaughlin was retired from her job at the Northern Trust as a result of her repeated blackouts, but she contended that she had learned to recognise the warning signs that a blackout attack was about to happen. The judge however referenced Ms McLaughlin's Disability Living Allowance application, in which she claimed that she suffered from "no warning blackouts" and therefore needed "help to avoid injuring [herself]".

The judge said that Ms McLauglin could not avoid a prison sentence but took into account that she had a clear record, a good working record, and that she had shown genuine remorse. As well as her prison sentence she was also banned from driving for 10 years, after which time she will have take her driving test again.

If you require legal advice or representation from a criminal law solicitor in Northern Ireland in respect of a motoring offence, contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast by calling 0800 840 0546.

Or to read information about driving offences in Northern Ireland click here.