Belfast Telegraph

Three-year ban for lorry driver Murphy involved in fatal crash

By Ashleigh McDonald

A Co Down man involved in a fatal road collision which claimed the life of a 69-year old man has been banned from driving for three years.

William Mark Murphy was driving a lorry which collided with a tractor pulling a trailer on the A4 dual carriageway between Dungannon and Ballygawley.

The fatal incident, which occurred at the junction of the Killybracken Road on June 25, 2014, resulted in the death of Caledon father of four Phelim Brady, who was standing on the drawbar of the tractor when it was hit from behind by a lorry driven by Murphy.

From Prospect Road in Castlewellan, Murphy (53) was given a driving ban and was also handed a four-month prison sentence, which was suspended for three years, for causing Mr Brady's death by careless driving.

On Tuesday Dungannon Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, heard that Murphy had been driving in the inside lane and had gone to overtake the slow-moving tractor and trailer, but was forced to abort the overtaking manoeuvre after failing to see a car travelling in the outside lane.

After attempting and failing to overtake the tractor and trailer, he swerved back into the inside lane. However, Murphy was too close to the back of tractor towing the trailer, failed to break in time and subsequently impacted into them.

The court heard that Mr Brady sustained "multiple injuries as a result of the collision" and died at the scene.

During Tuesday's sentencing, Judge Neil Rafferty paid tribute to the "tremendously dignified and decent" Brady family, who have been devastated by the loss of a loving husband, father and grandfather.

Judge Rafferty said that having read Victim Impact Reports, it was clear Mr Brady's loved ones had "lost the bedrock of the family unit." Judge Rafferty also noted that while one of Mr Brady's daughters said any sentence imposed "will not lessen the grief felt by the whole family," another daughter said Murphy's actions caused her father's death.

As members of Mr Brady's family sat in the public gallery of the court, Judge Rafferty said they had been "dealt a huge blow" by his loss - but said that no sentence he passed would bring the deceased back.

Murphy denied a charge of causing Mr Brady's death by dangerous driving, and following a trial held earlier this year, he was found guilty by a jury of the lesser charge of death by careless driving - a charge he accepted from the outset.

Crown prosecutor Peter Irvine QC said Murphy's driving on the day in question fell below the standard expected of a competent driver. The prosecutor said as the lorry driver went to overtake the tractor and trailer, he failed to see the car travelling in the outside lane, that he was driving too close to the vehicle in front and that he failed to break in time to cause the collision.

Mr Irvine also pointed out that during the trial, a forensic officer gave evidence which indicated he "couldn't rule out the possibility there had been no braking prior to impact."

Defence barrister Kieran Mallon QC described the fatal collision as "absolutely tragic" and said there was nothing to suggest Murphy saw Mr Brady as he stood on the drawbar of the tractor.

The barrister said that since the incident, Murphy has been "absolutely consumed with grief and remorse", adding: "The remorse expressed appears to be solely based on the impact of the deceased's death on his family. He is more than acutely aware of the sense of loss Mrs Brady and her children have suffered as a result of this accident."

Mr Mallon said Murphy's plea to causing Mr Brady's death by careless driving indicated he accepted responsibility.

The barrister also pointed out that his client - who has held an HGV licence since he was 21 - came before the court with no driving offences, and was a "hard-working man of extremely good character."

As he passed sentence, Judge Rafferty said "Mr Murphy did not set out that day to cause this hardship and heartbreak to the Brady family" - but cited the careless aspects of his driving prior to point of impact.

Branding the fatal incident as a "tragic, tragic case", Judge Rafferty told Murphy "you will live with this for the rest of your life".

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