Belfast Telegraph

Teen suspect in crash death of friend is denied bail

By Paul Higgins

A teenager accused of killing his best friend during a high speed police chase in Co Down has been refused bail for what a judge described as his "repeated and sustained breaches" of previous bail conditions.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is awaiting trial on five separate charges in relation to the incident 15 months ago.

He is accused of causing the death of his 18-year-old friend Conal Daly, causing grievous bodily injury to Sisters of Mercy nun Josephine McAleer, dangerous driving, two counts of assault on police, and causing criminal damage to a PSNI vehicle.

The charges relate to an incident that occurred on the Saintfield Road in Carryduff at 8.40pm on October 16, 2014.

It is alleged that the youth was driving a 'runaround' Jaguar car that crashed into a Volkswagen Polo being driven at the time by the nun, who sustained fractures to both legs in the collision.

The police pursuit of the Jaguar started at the Ravenhill Road/Ormeau Road junction until it finally crashed into the Polo.

The incident is currently the subject of a Police Ombudsman investigation.

Downpatrick Crown Court heard that the defendant had previously been released on "stringent bail conditions".

Prosecutor Sam Magee told Judge Piers Grant: "He has repeatedly breached all previous bail conditions imposed on him. "In total, he has breached his bail conditions on 26 occasions." The court heard that while resident in Beechcroft Forster Green psychiatric unit in south Belfast, the youth returned in August last year "intoxicated".

The lawyer said he was subjected to a drug test which proved positive for cocaine.

During one curfew check at a bail address, the lawyer claimed the youth threatened to assault police officers with a glass bottle and "spat on them".

Mr Magee said that in September last year the teenager was arrested on suspicion of armed robbery and a number of witnesses had picked him out of an identifcation process as "being one of the robbers involved" who was wearing a Halloween mask.

Judge Grant was told that the youth has been in custody since last September at the Rathgael Centre in Bangor.

Defence barrister John O'Connor told the court that the youth had sustained a "significant brain trauma" as a result of the crash, which had been confirmed by an MRI scan.

He added that his best friend Daly had died in the crash.

"He has never been to his graveside, which has had a massive effect on him. He wants to visit the grave of his deceased friend."

Judge Piers Grant said there had been "repeated and sustained" breaches of previous bail conditions by the youth.

Refusing bail, Judge Grant said he would in the future consider a compassionate bail application for the defendant to visit the grave of Mr Daly "if that would assist his mental well-being''.

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