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Guilty plea from driver accused in death crash

By Margaret Canning

A lorry driver has pleaded guilty at Omagh Crown Court to causing the death of teenage schoolgirl Nicola Murray in a tragic accident.

The family of 16-year-old Nicola, including her parents Jim and Paula, looked on as Damien McGivern (46), of Ardmore Park in Hilltown, Newry, pleaded guilty to causing her death by dangerous driving.

A senior barrister called the case “extraordinary” because of the positive view of Mr McGivern taken by some of those affected by the crash, which happened on February 27, 2008.

A fifth-year pupil at St Ciaran’s High School in Ballygawley, Nicola was the only fatality among the passengers of the bus hit by Mr McGivern’s lorry as the bus turned into St Mary’s Primary School on Whites Road, where it was to drop off pupils.

The bus was packed with members of Nicola’s extended family, all of whom live in the same rural area of Cabragh outside Dungannon.

Her young cousins Orlaith and Grainne Mallon were injured, Grainne so badly that she spent three months in hospital. Grainne and Nicola were sitting next to each other and were crushed by the impact of the collision.

Mr McGivern’s trial was due to take place this week but the jury was discharged after his guilty plea in front of Judge David McFarland. He also pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to Orlaith and Grainne.

The judge told the jury: “This case of the death of a young child would have raised difficult issues of fact for you to consider. Fortunately for you it’s no longer necessary for you to go through it.”

Pre-sentence reports were ordered as were updated medical reports on the condition of the young girls ahead of sentencing by Judge McFarland next month.

Eugene Grant QC, counsel for the defence, said: “It’s an unusual case that the families have a very positive view of this man rather than the negative view one finds in this situation and I understand they may wish to provide submissions (for sentencing).”

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