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Lucky escape for Bridget (83) after stolen car ploughs into Derry home

By Angela Rainey

Published 16/02/2016

The stolen car
The stolen car
Charlie McGuigan in the garden of his mother’s home
Charlie McGuigan in the garden of his mother’s home

An elderly woman had a lucky escape when a car ploughed through her back garden and crashed into her home.

Bridget Gallagher (83) was left shaken when the stolen silver Skoda Fabia rammed into her Londonderry bungalow at 5.30am on Sunday.

The mother-of six-had been asleep when she heard the screech of the vehicle, which broadsided her hedge and fences before slamming into the side of the house, destroying her patio and crushing her wheelie bin and oil burner.

A chainlink fence, the hedge and a wooden fence were also completely wrecked in the impact, which launched sunken concrete posts through the roof of her two-bedroom home in Oakgrove Park, Lenamore.

Her son Charlie McGuigan says his mother was so shocked that she stayed in her bedroom until neighbours knocked on her door to check that she was OK.

"When my mother heard the crash, she had no idea what had happened but she was petrified," explained Mr McGuigan.

"She didn't ring anyone or move because she was so shocked.

"She just stayed put until one of the neighbours knocked the door. She looked out, then answered.

"It's only a small house, and for the car to end up right beside it shows that this could have been much more serious.

"Had the hedges and fences not have been there and the balustrades to slow it, the car would have gone right through the wall of the house."

Although the street is mainly populated by older people and is usually quiet, the road behind it is known as a favoured racetrack for so-called joyriders, with the thugs driving around at breakneck speed.

Mr McGuigan says the incident could have been prevented with a few simple measures to slow speeding cars and make the area less welcoming for car thieves looking to race.

"It's been a problem that's been around for years, people stealing cars and joyriding at all sorts of speeds up the back road," he said.

"They're speeding and doing doughnuts.

"There's no crash barriers or speed bumps, there's no traffic calming measures there, when that's all it would take to slow people down.

"I don't know how many were in the car but it's more than just a case of stealing a car, it's criminal damage, too, and the repair bill will run into thousands."

Despite the terrible scare and the destruction, Mr McGuigan says he's been reassured by the amount of support his mother has received.

"As a family, we are supporting her as she is still very shaken, but the community here has been great.

"People have offered my mother accommodation and have been coming round to see if she is OK or needs anything.

"It's mainly older people here and it's a nice quiet area otherwise, so it's great to see the community really rallying round to help her."

Anyone with information is asked to ring the police on 101.

Belfast Telegraph

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