North Belfast man who knocked down pedestrian while barred from driving jailed

A North Belfast man who knocked down a pedestrian while disqualified from driving was jailed on Wednesday.

Darren Ferguson, 36, of Woodland Avenue in the city, pleaded guilty to offences of dangerous driving, driving whilst disqualified and driving with no insurance.

He further admitted driving while unfit through drink or drugs, failing to provide a specimen and possessing a Class C drug, namely Bromazolam.

Belfast Crown Court heard Ferguson was behind the wheel of a Jaguar X-type car which collided with the victim near a junction between the Cavehill Road and Henderson Avenue in north Belfast on May 22, 2023 at 12.20am. He drove the vehicle into the woman at speed on a pedestrian crossing.

The victim described hearing a loud engine noise after stepping onto the pedestrian crossing and then seeing a car speeding towards her on the wrong side of the road. The vehicle struck her before she could get out of the way and hurled her to the ground.

Her hand was cut in the collision and she required hospital treatment for broken bones after she was struck by a wing mirror on the Jaguar car. A witness observed the car travelling at excess speed, heard a smash and then saw the woman lying on the ground.

The same car collided with a vehicle parked in a nearby layby, causing extensive damage and pushing it out onto the middle of the road. Another car was also struck while stopped at traffic lights close to the scene of the hit-and-run.

Police were told that three people were seen fleeing the scene of the crash and their descriptions were circulated. Ferguson was detained a short time later in the Antrim Road area but refused to provide a sample. A number of yellow tablets were found on him during a search.

The court heard his DNA was found on an airbag which had activated due to the impact of the crash. He was wearing similar clothing to one of those captured on CCTV from a local pharmacy on the Cavehill Road fleeing from the hit-and-run.

Ferguson gave no comment replies to all questions put to him by police during interview. The court heard the defendant has 120 previous convictions including 16 for road traffic offences. At the time of the offending, Ferguson was the subject of an 18 month suspended sentence for dangerous driving.

Judge Gordon Kerr KC said: “This is an extremely bad case of driving which is aggravated by the fact of dangerous driving, driving whilst disqualified and driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”

Imposing a three-year sentence, Judge Kerr said Ferguson would spend 18 months in custody followed by a similar period on supervised licence on his release from prison. The judge disqualified Ferguson from driving for a period of two years and he must resit his driving test.

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