Belfast Telegraph

Mum hails her 'miracle' daughter's recovery as hit-and-run biker jailed

By George Jackson

The mother of a seven-year-old girl who suffered life-threatening injuries when she was knocked down by a hit-and-run motorcyclist last year has described her only child as "a miracle daughter".

Tracy McGuinness was speaking after David Gerard McCloskey (24), from East Avenue in the Waterside area of Londonderry, was jailed for nine months.

McCloskey was the uninsured and unlicensed rider of a motorbike who hit little Caoimhe as she crossed Creggan Heights Road near her home in Derry last June 12.

Earlier this month Caoimhe made her First Communion on the first anniversary of the hit-and-run.

She was flipped into the air by the collision and thrown along the road.

McCloskey and his pillion passenger were both knocked off the motorcycle. Both went and looked at Caoimhe as she lay on the road.

The pillion passenger stayed at the scene but McCloskey remounted the motorcycle and drove away.

He was later reported to the police by the pillion passenger.

Unconscious Caoimhe was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital and then transferred to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

Her injuries included a fractured skull, a rupture and laceration to her spleen, a suspected laceration of her kidney, fractures to her jaw and to a finger, together with lung and cerebral contusions. She still has a steel plate in her jaw.

McCloskey, who had 22 previous convictions for offences in Derry and Donegal, initially denied involvement, but later made admissions. He told the police he drove away from the scene of the incident because he had panicked.

He later tried to set fire to his motorcycle.

Judge Philip Babington said that McCloskey, who apologised to Caoimhe and her family, had been given ample opportunities by the courts on both sides of the border, but had failed to take advantage of them.

"His behaviour after the incident was inexcusable as he left Caoimhe lying on the ground in an unconscious state and drove off.

"I know that he says he panicked, but that does not take away from the point," he said.

"In this case the defendant rode the motorcycle without a licence and without insurance and in a way that was totally inappropriate to a pleasant summer evening in a built-up area of the city," he added.

Judge Babington also disqualified McCloskey from driving for three years.

Speaking after McCloskey's jailing, Tracy described him as "scum" for what he had put her daughter and family through.

"She is my miracle daughter because when I saw her injuries immediately after the accident and as I watched her in her hospital bed after emergency surgery, I did not think she was going to survive," she said.

"Hopefully this sentencing will make young drivers of motorbikes realise what the consequences could be of driving too fast in built-up areas and slow down."

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