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Death crash policewoman asked officer to keep quiet about drinking, court told

By Gerry McLaughlin

Published 06/07/2016

Eilish McSherry is charged with causing the death of Paul Mills (49) on October 10 last year, Dungannon Crown Court heard
Eilish McSherry is charged with causing the death of Paul Mills (49) on October 10 last year, Dungannon Crown Court heard

A policewoman charged with causing death by dangerous driving asked another PSNI officer not to record an alleged admission that she had been drinking, a court was told yesterday.

Eilish McSherry is charged with causing the death of Paul Mills (49) in October last year.

The 41-year-old defendant also faces a charge of dangerous driving on Clanabogan Road at the same location and date.

The alleged offences occurred when the defendant was off-duty. It is understood she has since been suspended from the PSNI while the case is ongoing.

A prosecutor opposing a bail variation told a hearing at Dungannon Crown Court that the defendant was on the wrong side of the road when she was involved in the fatal collision.

It was also claimed that McSherry refused to cooperate over an alcohol breath test.

The defendant, who was taken to hospital, spoke to an officer in “florid terms” and said she had been drinking, the court heard.

It was alleged that McSherry then asked the officer to not record that she had been drinking and then continued to obstruct the test process.

A subsequent blood sample taken showed that she had an alcohol reading of 182mg of blood per 100ml of alcohol, which was just over twice the legal drink-drive limit.

The prosecutor said McSherry was released on police bail, after which she surrendered her passport and agreed to other conditions set out at a magistrates’ court hearing.

It was alleged that the police officer was actually involved in two collisions on the night in question — October 10 last year.

The court was told that the defendant’s Saab Vector struck a Peugeot on the Clanabogan Road, near Omagh, and failed to stop at the scene.

A number of witnesses said that McSherry was driving at a speed in excess of 70mph, and forensic evidence supported these claims.

After the first crash, the defendant is said to have travelled around 350 metres before crashing into a Toyota Yaris driven by Mr Mills. The deceased had managed to bring his vehicle to a halt at the time of the fatal incident, which happened on his side of the road.

When McSherry was taken to hospital, she initially refused a breath test, and police said they believed there was a medical reason for this matter.

But a subsequent test almost 12 hours later showed a blood reading of 182mg, and the sample also contained traces of diazepam and Tramadol that, when combined with alcohol, would have had a powerful effect on the accused.

The prosecutor said the defendant told police: “I f****d up, drinking and driving.

“Please don’t put this into your notebook — I am talking to you as a person, and not as a police officer.”

The court heard that McSherry has one previous criminal conviction for disorderly behaviour in 2015, for which she was handed a £150 fine.

Requesting a bail variation, a defence counsel asked a judge that the defendant be granted permission to stay with her aunt, whom she visits in Castlerock, every few weeks.

Judge Melody McReynolds granted the variation and gave McSherry permission to do so on the understanding that she gives the police 24 hours’ notice.

The defendant, who is due to be arraigned in Dungannon Crown Court on September 7, was remanded on continuing bail of £500.

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