Fatal car crash accused banned from Ballycastle over reprisal fears
A man charged in connection with a car crash that left two people dead has been released on bail but banned from entering the Ballycastle area because "community tensions are very high".
Shane Kinney (20), of Drones Road, Armoy, appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court charged with two counts of causing death by dangerous driving, seven of causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving, perverting the course of justice, failing to report an accident, failing to remain at the scene and drugs offences.
He was arrested after a crash on the Cushendall Road on April 6 in which Johnny Black (19), from Ballycastle, and Robin Wilson (26), from Armoy, died. Clodagh Arbuckle (18), from Ballycastle, was left with brain injuries.
PSNI officer Michael McNeill said he believed he could connect the accused to 18 charges, and District Judge Liam NcNally ruled that there was sufficient evidence to do so.
Constable McNeill told how in the early hours on the day of the accident police received reports of a collision involving a Volkswagen Bora, in which Mr Wilson was travelling, and a Peugeot containing Mr Black. Investigations of the scene led officers to believe a third vehicle was involved, and the car was identified as a Volkswagen Golf belonging to Mr Kinney.
Afterwards the defendant presented himself to police for interview but then refused to comment. He also handed over his car for inspection, though no damage was discovered.
But Constable McNeill said police suspected parts for the car had been stolen from a scrapyard, and subsequent tests matched parts on Mr Kinney's Golf to a vehicle in a local scrapyard.
The officer added that witnesses had seen the accused leave the scene of the crash, and others had seen his parents recover the car. Another person had also seen Mr Kinney and Mr Wilson at a bar prior to the crash.
The court was told how a witness at Ballyvoy heard a noise and assumed that it was the acceleration of both Mr Wilson and Mr Kinney's cars. A middle-aged couple also claimed to have seen a Volkswagen Bora overtaking them on a blind bend and travelling at "significant speed".
But a defence solicitor claimed his client was driving towards Ballycastle when he saw a car approaching from behind, then saw another car driving towards him. The lawyer said the defendant believed a car had hit his wing mirror, and as he turned around he came across the accident. The solicitor added that the case against Mr Kinney was based on "innuendo and assumptions".
Constable McNeill said that while the defendant had been arrested last Tuesday, he was objecting to bail because "community tension is very high in the Ballycastle area" as a result of the deaths of two young men and the brain injuries sustained by Ms Arbuckle. He added police were concerned for the Mr Kinney's safety.
He also revealed that Kinney's girlfriend, who was said to have been with him at the time of the alleged incident, was also arrested on Tuesday, but then released pending further enquiries.
Applying for bail, Mr Kinney's solicitor said he was content to stay out of Ballycastle. Afterwards the judge released the defendant on bail of £1,000, along with a surety for £5,000. Judge McNally banned him from entering Ballycastle and ordered him to surrender his passport and driving licence. The defendant was additionally barred from being in the driver's seat or front passenger seat of any vehicle.
The case was adjourned to the same court on July 27.