Draperstown boy-racer had turned car into a ‘death trap’

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A young Draperstown man has been slammed by a judge for turning his car into a death trap.

Conor McCluskey from Mulnavoo Road had been “racing” and “doing hand brake turns”, when he lost control of his green Vauxhall and crashed with two passengers on board on the Lough Fea Road, in May last year.

The prosecution went on to detail how the 19-year-old had given police a false name, and that he was disqualified from driving at the time as the result of an earlier conviction.

They also detailed a list of faults with the vehicle - which were discovered when it was handed over to PSNI Cookstown for destruction on October 16 last year. As well as having no hydraulic system, the brakes had been tampered with, there was a nine inch crack on the windscreen, all of the other windows were missing and had been replaced by plastic, seat-belts had been cut out, the rear axle was gone and the tyres were defective.

Addressing McCluskey, District Judge John Meehan said he had manipulated the car making it into “a death trap”.

Calling the defendant a risk to the public, he then went on to question whether any sentence other than jail would be enough as “some young males are simply not wired to assess risk until about 21”.

He also asked why the defendant’s family had allowed him access to a vehicle, when he was disqualified from driving.

After some consideration Judge Meehan told the trainee mechanic: “If you go out on the road again and you come back before this court again, you will go to prison.”

He then handed McCluskey a four month sentence in a young offenders centre to be suspended for three years, and disqualified him from driving for a total of three years for dangerous driving and driving whilst disqualified.

He must also pay fines totalling £1,115 for offences including having no seatbelt, insurance or vehicle test certificate, driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition and obstructing police.