A judge told Ballymena Magistrates’ Court he could not think of an incident in which there a “more serious risk” to the public.
A defence barrister for Ryan Morgan (34), of Leyland Drive in Ballycastle, accepted the defendant had taken “liberties” with the lives of himself, his passengers and other road users. Morgan admitted driving whilst ‘unfit’; failing to remain and report a collision and absence of insurance and a driving licence.
A prosecutor said there was a two vehicle collision on the M2 motorway near Antrim town at 8.15am on December 18, 2020. A motorist had been in the outside lane and when Morgan attempted to pass on the inside he struck the other vehicle causing it to “veer towards” the inside lane.
Morgan then again attempted to pass the vehicle by “essentially making a third lane”. The two vehicles stopped and Morgan got out of the driver seat of a Volkswagen Golf and then switched places with a passenger and the vehicle left. When the vehicle was stopped police observed Morgan was “under the influence of drugs”. The court heard there were four males in the car.
A blood sample showed drugs in Morgan’s system.
Defence barrister Alan Stewart said Morgan “struggles” with drug addiction and has sought help with Community Addictions. The lawyer said Morgan had “no recollection of these events” and it was “extremely fortunate for everybody in his car and every other road user that nothing more serious happened and that nobody was hurt, or even worse”.
The barrister said Morgan and his “friends” were on his way to Belfast to “get more drugs”. He added: “They were, to use the vernacular, off their faces on drugs and they were going to get more drugs and they took liberties with their own lives and with everybody else’s lives who was on the road and it is with the Grace of God perhaps that nobody was seriously injured, or worse. Thankfully the police apprehended them when they did”.
Mr Stewart said Morgan was “deeply ashamed”, had apologised and had not driven since. Deputy District Judge Philip Mateer said the defendant had 51 previous convictions including jail time. He said he appreciated the defendant was struggling with addiction; was seeking help and Probation said he was co-operating with them.
The judge told Morgan: “At the time you were driving in a most dangerous way, overtaking on the inside, and creating, effectively, a third lane on the motorway. You were under the influence of drugs. You were on your way to get more drugs so a more serious risk to the public really cannot be easily imagined.
“You are high on drugs, driving a vehicle which is a lethal weapon, on a motorway, overtaking on the inside, and your driving caused an accident.”
The judge ordered Morgan to do 100 hours of “unpaid work for the benefit of the community”; put him on Probation for a year; banned him from driving for two years and fined him £100.