Ferrari crash Belfast millionaire case adjourned in bid to identify mystery couple in photo
A photograph of two people standing beside the driver of a £150,000 Ferrari, which crashed in Holywood, Co Down, over a year ago, was not considered "relevant" by a police officer tasked with investigating the incident, Newtownards Magistrates' Court has heard.
Property developer Christopher Walsh is charged with a number of motoring offences arising out of the crash on the Belfast Road on the evening of September 26, 2015, which attracted a large crowd of onlookers, with photographs of the battered 560-bhp luxury sports vehicle later appearing on social media.
The case, which was listed for contest at the court yesterday morning, was dramatically halted in order for a "verifiable, proper" attempt to be made to track down the couple in the photograph, which, the court heard, was taken by a named witness.
And while District Judge, Peter King, stressed that he was making "absolutely zero criticism" of the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) - which had previously asked for all of the photographs in the case to be made available - he did rule that in order to guarantee fairness for all of the parties involved in the case, the matter should be adjourned.
Earlier, defending counsel Mr Greg Berry QC had argued that the two individuals in the photograph could potentially have been able to make observations about whether Christopher Walsh was intoxicated or not.
Mr Berry outlined his intention to make a so-called 'hip flask defence', essentially claiming that alcohol was consumed by the defendant after the impact of the collision.
As well as a charge of driving while unfit, Walsh stands accused of driving with excess alcohol, driving without due care and attention, failing to report a damage-only road accident, and failing to stop following a damage-only road accident.
During questioning by the defence, the investigating police officer acknowledged that, despite police being in possession of the photograph in question for "over a year", the defence had only been shown the image on the morning of the contest hearing.
"That was an oversight on my part", the officer continued.
"I can only apologise to the court for that."
Agreeing to the defence application for an adjournment, District Judge King said that it was clear there had been a "breakdown in communication" between police and the Public Prosecution Service.
Mr King continued: "It is highly regrettable that a photograph requested in December 2015 turns up on the morning of the hearing.
"I am obliged to ensure fairness for all parties and that cannot be guaranteed without allowing a further opportunity to investigate the two parties in the photograph."
Addressing the defending counsel, Mr King said that, should the attempts to locate the individuals in the photograph prove successful, any potential evidence they give could be "a double-edged sword" for the defence.
The case was adjourned until December 13.