Man who tampered with runaway lorry's brakes jailed

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Media captionRunaway lorry captured on CCTV

A man who tampered with an articulated lorry's brakes causing it to crash into a shopping centre has been sent to jail for 18 months.

Ryan Doherty, 23, from Londonderry, admitted tampering with the braking system when it was being unloaded in September 2016.

The lorry caused more than £200,000 worth of damage.

At Londonderry Magistrate's Court, Judge Barney McElholm said anyone in the way "would have been mown down."

Image copyright BBC Radio Foyle
Image caption Doherty admitted tampering with the lorry's brakes and also causing damage to Foyleside Shopping Centre

Doherty admitted tampering with the lorry's brakes and also causing damage to Foyleside Shopping Centre and to the nearby Primark store.

He also pleaded guilty to damaging a parked car, fittings owned by the local council and property owned by Transport Northern Ireland.

A Public Prosecution Service (PPS) solicitor told the court that in the early hours of 11 September 2016, the driver of the lorry, which had a trailer attached, parked in Derry's Linenhall Street to make a delivery.

The driver was standing beside the vehicle when he saw it move downhill in the direction of Newmarket Street, the court was told.

Image copyright Adrian Logan
Image caption The court heard damage to the entrance of the Foyleside Shopping Centre totalled £59,000.

The court heard the driver ran after the lorry.

It hit street furniture and a parked car before crashing into Foyleside Shopping Centre.

The prosecuting solicitor said damage caused to property owned by the Derry City and Strabane Distrct council amounted to £2,558.

"Damage caused to the Primark store amounted to £9,365 and the damage caused to the parked car totalled £1,400," he said.

The court heard damage to the entrance of Foyleside Shopping Centre totalled £59,000.

A further £2,400 damage was caused to the lorry and £4,200 worth of damage was caused to the trailer.

An additional £96,000 worth of damage was caused to property owned by Transport Northern Ireland.

Image copyright Adrian Logan
Image caption The lorry hit street furniture and a parked car before crashing into Foyleside Shopping Centre.

Police identified Doherty after viewing CCTV footage and compiling photographs of three youths seen approaching the lorry.

In the footage, the defendant, was seen pushing a button inside the lorry's cab before it rolled downhill.

Defence barrister Stephen Mooney described the financial damage caused as "colossal."

He said the button pressed by Doherty was the primary braking system of the lorry and he said the back up system had not been applied by the driver.

Mr Mooney said: "This was an act of utter recklessness.

"I do not think the defendant could have foreseen the consequences of his actions. It was not his hope and desire that the lorry would end up embedded in the Foyleside Shopping Centre."

Image copyright Adrian Logan
Image caption The crash happened at the bottom of a steep street in the city centre

Sentencing, Judge McElhom said Doherty's action could have killed.

"If anybody had been in the path of this lorry they would have been mown down," he said.

"It had the impact of causing over £200,000 of damage but he did not think about that when he let the brake off."

Doherty was jailed for eighteen months and was fined £500.

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