Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Widow’s fury as death crash man avoids jail

A widow hit out after the neighbour who caused her husband’s death in a road accident escaped prison in a landmark judgment by the courts.

Prison officer Christopher Darragh (26), of Edenmore Way in Ballymoney, was sentenced to 240 hours of community service after admitting causing the death of Stephen Moorcroft (35) by careless driving on October 21 last year.

Mr Moorcroft had just dropped his wife Michelle at a train station for her to catch a train to her work in Belfast when the head-on collision happened on a bend on Bann Road between Ballymoney and Bendooragh at around 7am.

Forensic tests could not prove that Darragh — on his way to work at Maghaberry prison — had been speeding, so he could not be prosecuted for the more serious offence of causing death by dangerous driving.

The court heard that Darragh lost control of his Renault Laguna, careering onto the wrong side of the road and into the path of Mr Moorcroft, who was going back home to Edenmore Crescent to feed his dogs before going to work as a driver at Causeway Hospital.

Mrs Moorcroft, who wore a locket with pictures of her husband on their wedding day in 2008, wept in court as Judge Gemma Loughran said: “No court can bring Mr Moorcroft back to life and no sanction imposed can cure the anguish of his family or reconcile them to their loss.”

The judge took into account UK sentencing guidelines and concluded Darragh’s level of careless driving was “low to medium”.

Speaking afterwards, Mrs Moorcroft said: “You can kill somebody on the roads and escape prison so long as you’re not proved to be speeding. I can’t believe it.”

Mr Moorcroft’s brother Alan said the community sentence would not act as a deterrent.

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