Belfast Telegraph

Girl's collarbone broken by beach hit-and-run driver

BY GEORGE JACKSON

A four-year-old girl suffered a broken collarbone when she was struck by a speeding car on a packed beach, a court has heard.

The child was with her mother who swept her into her arms just seconds before they were both hit by a BMW on Benone Beach on Sunday afternoon.

Donegal plasterer Paul John Doherty (30) appeared in court in Londonderry yesterday after he admitted a series of charges connected with the incident – including drink-driving.

The defendant, from Ballynahone in Fahan, was arrested 20 miles from the beach. Police claim he sped from the scene before hiding his car behind a partially-built house on the Barnailt Road, three miles from Limavady.

Doherty's Northern Ireland-registered BMW was found by the crew of a police helicopter which had been deployed following the beach incident. A police witness said when he arrived in a patrol car at the north coast beach the BMW sped towards Limavady.

"The mother has sustained bruising to her legs and several cuts. Her daughter has a fractured left clavicle (collarbone) and a swollen face and bruises.

"One witness said after the BMW sped from the beach it missed another child, who was digging in the sand, by inches," the officer told Deputy District Judge Terence Dunlop.

The officer said when police arrived at the Barnailt Road where the car had been parked, Doherty ran away.

"He was caught following a quick chase with the car keys in his hand and he admitted he had taken the car numberplates off and put them into the boot," he said. Doherty was arrested and taken to Limavady police station where he admitted seven charges in relation to the incidents at the beach and at Seacoast Road.

The charges include dangerous driving causing grievous bodily injury, dangerous driving, failing to stop, failing to remain at the scene of an injury accident and failing to report the accident. He also admitted driving while unfit due to alcohol after a preliminary breath test showed he had just over twice the legal amount of alcohol in his breath.

Defence solicitor Paddy McGurk said Doherty had only one previous conviction and that his parents were in court with a €1,000 surety and with his passport.

Doherty was released on his own bail of £500 plus one surety of €1,000 to appear in court again on August 19.

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