Samuel Acheson, from Keady Road, Keady, appeared before the court charged with dangerous driving.
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A prosecutor revealed that on Monday, October 24 last year, at around 7pm, police received a report of a two-vehicle collision on the New Line Road in Lurgan.
“It was reported as a high impact collision between a car and a tractor and that the vehicles were on fire. Upon police arrival, the Ambulance Service and NI Fire and Rescue Service were also in attendance. Both vehicles were still in situ on the road. The tractor had forks on the rear of the vehicle and as a result of the RTC had went through the windscreen of the car,” said the prosecutor.
"All persons involved were checked over by ambulance staff at the scene with none reporting any injuries. The driver of the car alleged the tractor did not have any lights on and as a result he didn’t see the tractor as it was dark. An independent witness confirmed the tractor didn’t have any lights on at the time of the collision. When the defendant was interviewed he stated that he only had one rear spotlight illuminated on the tractor. He admitted that his standard of driving fell far below that of a competent and careful driver.”
Acheson’s barrister Conor Lunney said: “This could have been far, far worse for everybody.” District Judge Bernie Kelly said: “He doesn’t seem to get that, reading the pre-sentence report.”
Mr Lunney said he has instructions to apologise to the driver of the car and other witnesses.
“t’s a miracle that no one was even scratched. The car was on fire by the time police arrived. But for the grace of God, everybody not only survived but emerged unscathed. It could have been far, far different.
Mr Lunney described his client as ‘not particularly engaged in conversation and fairly monosyllabic’.
“He finds it hard to express himself. However, the last couple of times he has been in court he has been in tears. He is bright enough to know that it could have been far worse. There is victim empathy here.”
Mr Lunney added: “He is from a farming community. It was his father’s tractor on the day. He lives near Keady and does work around the north Armagh area for the last number of years. On the day in question he took a chance. He is bright enough to know there was a risk to everybody involved. He had a spotlight which I understand is manually operated. He claims he could manually position it to shine out in the rear direction so that cars would see it. They clearly didn’t and even if they did it would have been insufficient on an October night.
"He has a good work ethic and is able to keep his job with his mother and friends taking him to and lifting him in Portadown.”
District Judge Kelly said: “This is a serious offence and hopefully you will have learned your lesson on taking vehicles out onto the road after dark.”
She imposed a Community Service Order of 120 hours and a driving ban of 12 months.