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BUNDORAN TRAGEDY VICTIM IS SENTENCED

Rachel pleaded guilty just days before horrific crash
 
ONE OF THE young people seriously injured in the tragic car crash in Bundoran last month has been sentenced in her absence after she had admitted to an assault charge prior to the accident.
Rachel Elliott (25) from Rehal Road, Irvinestown, who remains seriously ill in hospital, had pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm to a female on April 9.  
She appeared before Enniskillen Magistrates Court last month, and the case was adjourned for pre-sentence reports. 
But only days after her court appearance, she suffered horrific injuries following the collision in Bundoran. The case returned to court a number of times for mention, and at the most recent sitting a defence lawyer said it was highly unlikely there could be any appearance in the near future. 
District Judge Michael Ranahan decided to proceed with sentencing. The court heard the victim was in a bar shortly before 1am on the date in question, when Elliott approached and an altercation occurred. 
The defendant punched the victim to the right cheek then took hold of her hair. Bar staff intervened and eventually managed to get Elliott to loosen her grip, but not before she pulled out clumps of hair from the victim’s head. Police attended and seized CCTV. 
Elliott, pictured right, was arrested and refused to identify herself in the footage, but told officers, “She hit me first.” On being shown the footage again she claimed not to see where it showed her pulling the victim’s hair out. After being charged, Elliott pleaded guilty at the first opportunity in court.  
A defence lawyer handed in a Facebook post by his client which showed “significant insight into her actions and how remorseful she was.” Judge Ranahan remarked, “It’s a pity she hadn’t thought of that on the night itself.” 
The defence said Elliott accepts she was completely in the wrong and since then, “Things have taken a turn and because of the car accident has sustained life-changing injuries.” Judge Ranahan noted a previous record and referring to a victim impact statement commented “It’s clear physical, emotional and financial damage had been caused as a result of the defendant’s attack. I am satisfied the custody threshold is met.” 
He imposed a sentence of five months imprisonment but suspended this for two years. 
In addition, £250 compensation is to be paid to the victim.
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