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Ferrari crash: Belfast millionaire accused of Holywood drink driving smash has case adjourned

Published 28/11/2016

The Ferrari California T in Holywood. An undamaged model is capable of 0-60 in 3.6 seconds and can reach a top speed of 196 mph. Photograph by Paul Synnott
The Ferrari California T in Holywood. An undamaged model is capable of 0-60 in 3.6 seconds and can reach a top speed of 196 mph. Photograph by Paul Synnott
Damage to one of the other vehicles. Photograph by Paul Synnott
The Ferrari California T in Holywood. An undamaged model is capable of 0-60 in 3.6 seconds and can reach a top speed of 196 mph. Photograph by Paul Synnott
The Ferrari California T in Holywood. Photograph by Paul Synnott
Damage to other vehicles. Photograph by Paul Synnott
Ferrari California T wheel, tyre, brake caliper and disc lying on the road. Photo: Paul Synnott

The trial of a Belfast millionaire, accused of crashing his brand new £150K Ferrari while drunk, was adjourned on Monday because the investigating officer failed to disclose photos of the scene for a year.

"I didn't believe at the time that they were relevant," Constable Cooper told Newtownards Magistrates Court.

Damage to other vehicles. Photograph by Paul Synnott
Damage to other vehicles. Photograph by Paul Synnott
Damage to one of the other vehicles. Photograph by Paul Synnott
Damage to one of the other vehicles. Photograph by Paul Synnott

The court heard that 53-year-old Christopher David Walsh is running a "hip flask defence," arguing that the alcohol he consumed after crashing his sportscar put him over the drink limit rather than being unfit to drive before the impact on 26 September 2015.

The court also heard that having totalled his Ferrari California T, Walsh allegedly fled the scene and was found ten minutes later in undergrowth in a forested area close to the scene of the crash on the Belfast Road in Holywood.

Walsh, from Mount Pleasant in the Stranmillis area of south Belfast, is on bail accused of driving his 560 bhp, £150,000 Ferrari California T while unfit, driving the luxury sports car while drunk, careless driving, failing to report and failing to stop following the crash on the Belfast Road in Holywood on 26 September last year.

It is alleged that the Ferrari, capable of 0-60 in less than four seconds with a top speed close to 200 mph, clipped two parked cars on the Belfast Road before Walsh allegedly fled the scene of the accident.

Photographs of the trashed Ferrari were taken by a local man and although they were given to the PSNI three days after the crash, they were not given to the prosecution until Monday even though they had been requested by a PPS lawyer.

Applying for the trial to either be dismissed or adjourned, defence QC Greg Berry said there were two unidentified people in an image of the crash scene which he had just been given today.

He argued their evidence "could be of material importance" as they had been standing close by Walsh and given the nature of the defence case, could have testified as to his level of intoxication or otherwise.

Having confirmed from the PPS and Constable Cooper that nothing had been done to identify them or speak to the unidentified persons, Mr Berry argued it was "impossible" for Walsh to be given a fair trial because "there is a failure of the duty to properly investigate criminal allegations" on the part of the police.

Ferrari California T wheel, tyre, brake caliper and disc lying on the road. Photograph by Paul Synnott
Ferrari California T wheel, tyre, brake caliper and disc lying on the road. Photograph by Paul Synnott

Adjourning the trial and listing it for mention next week, District Judge Peter King said it was "quite clear" the images should have been disclosed to the defence and was "highly regrettable that photographs which were requested in December 2015 turn up on the morning of the hearing in November 2016."

"I am obliged to ensure fairness to all parties and I believe I cannot guarantee fairness to Mr Walsh if we progressed today," said the judge.

He added that even if the persons could be identified through police enquiries, "I will want to know what steps were taken" and Mr Berry conceded that if they did give statements "it may very well be that it is a double-edged sword" for the defence.

The Ferrari California T in Holywood. An undamaged model is capable of 0-60 in 3.6 seconds and can reach a top speed of 196 mph. Photograph by Paul Synnott
The Ferrari California T in Holywood. An undamaged model is capable of 0-60 in 3.6 seconds and can reach a top speed of 196 mph. Photograph by Paul Synnott
The Ferrari California T in Holywood. Photograph by Paul Synnott
The Ferrari California T in Holywood. Photograph by Paul Synnott
Christopher Walsh leaving Newtownards Court
Christopher Walsh leaving Newtownards Court

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