Northern Ireland news

Grieving father who caused £50k of damage at car showroom given suspended sentence

Frederick Young leaving Downpatrick court after his jail sentence was suspended

A grieving father who caused almost £50,000 of damage at a car showroom with a claw hammer has been handed a suspended jail sentence.

Suspending the two-year sentence for three years at Downpatrick Crown Court, Judge Geoffrey Millar warned Frederick Young to “be under no illusion that if you commit any further offences, particularly of this nature and particularly against the same victim, then that sentence will be put into effect”.

Having heard it was the second time that 64-year-old Young had gone on a wrecking spree at the Ballyrobert car showroom, the judge also imposed a five-year restraining order, again warning him that if he breached that order “you are liable to a custodial sentence”.

Young, from Breezemount Close in Conlig, Co Down, pleaded guilty to a single count of causing criminal damage to 45 cars and 21 large panes of glass on September 8 last year.

Prosecuting counsel Laura Ievers described how “two road users became aware of unusual activity” at the showroom when they heard “shouting and banging”.

While one approached Young, the other watched from the car as he used the hammer to smash cars and windows.

The court heard that when police arrived they noted Young had “bloody hands and appeared distressed” and when arrested, he made a “significant statement to the effect of ‘I smashed up the cars because those b******* put a photograph up of my son’s car crash’.”

Previous courts have heard how Young’s 33-year-old son Neil tragically lost his life close to the showroom in a one-vehicle road collision.

During police questioning, Young admitted damaging the cars and windows with the hammer he had brought from his home because he believed an employee had placed online an image of his son’s accident.

Ms Ievers revealed that at the time, Young was subject to community service and probation orders arising from a similar incident in July 2017, submitting that a restraining order was “necessary and proportionate.”

Defence counsel Conor Holmes made no contrary submissions regarding such an order and said that since pleading guilty, Young had completed the community service and probation periods.

Submitting that the latest pre-sentence report “is possibly the most positive I have ever read,” the lawyer also argued that Young has now “come to terms with the death of his son”.

Judge Millar told Young the fact the he committed further offences against the same victim was clearly an aggravating factor.

Commenting that the image of his son’s accident appearing online was “at best insensitive and at worst, shameful actions” that caused significant hurt, the judge said it was clear the custody threshold had been passed but that given the background and his guilty plea, he felt able to suspend the sentence.

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