Belfast Telegraph

Driver accused over collision that left Charly-Jean Thompson dead cleared as third trial in case is ruled out

Victim: Charly-Jean Thompson
Victim: Charly-Jean Thompson

By Staff Reporter

The Public Prosecution Service will not seek a third trial in an alleged death-driving case which claimed the life of a 15-year-old girl.

Charly-Jean Thompson died of her injuries four days after a two-vehicle collision near Cookstown, Co Tyrone, in 2013.

Last week, a retrial of Lee Walter Hegarty ended when the jury at Dungannon Crown Court was unable to reach a verdict.

The first trial had returned the same result in May 2017.

Hegarty, of Molesworth Road, Cookstown, was accused of causing Charly-Jean's death by careless driving as well as causing grievous bodily harm to her boyfriend Ryan McCracken.

Charly-Jean was a rear seat passenger in a BMW driven by Hegarty when it collided with a Toyota Helix at Drum Road before striking a telegraph pole.

She was rushed to Craigavon Area Hospital, then transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital, but died from her injuries.

Mr McCracken, who was 17 at the time, was a front seat passenger in the BMW, and had to be cut free after becoming trapped in the wreckage.

It had been claimed Hegarty was travelling on the Kildress Road, Cookstown, and did not stop at the junction with Drum Road. A collision occurred with the 4x4 coming from the other direction.

The driver of the 4x4, who was also injured, described having no time to brake, and the impact sent his vehicle over the roof of Hegarty's car.

The court heard a police officer carried out an inspection of the area the following day, and observed the 'Give Way' sign at the junction between the two roads, to be facing away from the direction it should have been.

Efforts to obtain fingerprints from the sign proved unsuccessful. The defence argued the sign facing the wrong direction by a malicious action was a major factor.

The jury retired to deliberate, but after a number of hours spread over the course of two days, a message was sent to be judge to say a verdict could not be reached and no additional time would be of benefit.

Charly-Jean's devastated family walked out of court before the jury was recalled to be formally addressed by the judge.

At that point Hegarty was released on continuing bail to allow time for the prosecution to consider their position.

Yesterday, it was confirmed a third trial would not be sought.

Hegarty's bail terms were lifted and he was free to leave the court.

Belfast Telegraph


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