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Judge gives another last chance to ‘audacious’ driver

A PROLIFIC motoring offender has been given another “last chance” after abandoning an appeal against conviction for his latest criminal behaviour, which occurred while under multiple suspended sentences. The appeal against imprisonment is continuing, but has been deferred.
Keith Henry John Crawford (42) from Kinmeen Road, Derrylin bought a Range Rover and drove it from the dealership while disqualified, repeating the offence a week later.
He denied the offences which occurred on January 19 and 23 2018, but was convicted at contest in Dungannon Magistrates Court last month.
Referring to an “audacious criminal record” District Judge John Meehan said the avoidance of imprisonment was embarrassing, noting suspended sentences were not enforced after the same offences committed elsewhere last year.
Crawford bought a Range Rover from a Dungannon car dealership for £37,000 which he paid in full by debit card on 19 January 2018. He told the manager to invoice it in his father’s name, as he was the insurer. No other person was with Crawford, who drove the vehicle from the showroom.
He later ordered some accessories, collecting them alone in the Range Rover on 23 January 2018.
The manager only learned Crawford was disqualified, when police sought a statement.
In court, Crawford disputed driving at any time, contending his parents brought him to and from the dealership on both occasions, and waiting for him outside.
District Judge John Meehan rejected Crawford’s version and convicted on all counts. He told Crawford, “Your alibi witnesses didn’t appear, and there were unimpressive attempts for adjournment. It is quite inappropriate to spare you prison. You repeatedly drive whilst disqualified and repeatedly defy court orders. Perhaps you have a false sense of security by how you have been dealt with previously.”
Handing down a four month sentence, Judge Meehan added, “No other disposal is appropriate. Frankly the extent of time which you have not be sent to prison is an embarrassment.”
Turning to the suspended sentences, he enquired if the crown court matter had been referred back after the Enniskillen disposal as per procedures, but this could not be clarified.
An existing six month suspended term for similar offending in 2017 was activated and the latest breaches were referred to crown court.
This made a total of 10 months custody with the judge deeming this, “Necessary to do justice given the audacious record.” Driving was further disqualified for four years.
Crawford however mounted an appeal against both conviction and sentence which came before Dungannon County Court.
Just as the hearing was to begin, a defence lawyer said the offences were now accepted and the appeal was against sentence only.
Pointing to the existing probation order, he suggested a period of deferral to allow this to continue.
Judge Stephen Fowler QC agreed but warned this is Crawford’s “last chance”.
The case will return in October.

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