Belfast Telegraph

Wrong man on trial for death of Charly Jean Thompson, court told

By Gerry McLaughlin

The trial of a man accused of causing the death of a 15-year-old Tyrone girl by careless driving has been told that the "wrong man is in the dock".

Tragic teenager Charly Jean Thompson died of her injuries four days after a two-vehicle collision at Drum Road, Cookstown, on August 14, 2013.

Lee Walter Hegarty (25), of Molesworth Road, Cookstown, denies causing death by careless driving. He also denies causing grievous bodily injury to 17-year-old Ryan McCracken.

Both teenagers were passengers in a red BMW driven by the defendant that was in collision with a Toyota Hilux truck.

A jury was unable to reach a verdict yesterday after deliberating for almost five hours at Dungannon Crown Court.

The trial heard that a 'Give Way' sign on a side road leading to the junction where the collision happened had been "maliciously moved".

Defence counsel Jim Gallagher told the jury that Hegarty did all he could to avoid the collision and that the responsibility lay with those who moved the warning sign.

"The responsibility for this dreadful tragedy does not lie with this young man in the dock," he said. "We say the wrong man is in the dock.

"The person who should be here in the dock is out there in society and he/she is probably reading a paper about this case, knowing what they have done.

"The responsibility lies squarely with those person or persons; it was not an accident at all."

He added the incident was "carefully planned by a malicious person who succeeded in getting what they wanted".

Judge Neil Rafferty put the case back to May 23 to ascertain the prosecution's intentions after initially telling the jury he could accept a majority verdict.

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