Belfast Telegraph

Driver has no memory of smash which killed Charly-Jean Thompson (15), court told

By Michael Donnelly

A young Northern Ireland man cannot remember anything about the car smash which claimed the life of a schoolgirl and injured another friend, a court has heard.

Dungannon Crown Court also heard yesterday that a 'Give Way' sign had been moved twice on the day of the crash, in August 2013.

On trial is 25-year-old Lee Walter Hegarty from Molseworth Road, Cookstown, who denies causing the death of teenager Charly-Jean Thompson and injuring 17-year-old Ryan McCracken, who were passengers in the car, by careless driving.

The jury was told that although both teenagers were rushed to Craigavon Area Hospital, 15-year-old Charly-Jean was transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where she died four days after the August 14 accident. Mr McCracken, who suffered pelvic injuries, has recovered.

Prosecution QC John Orr said that although interviewed five times over the next two years, Hegarty told police he "does not know what happened and has no recollection of where he was going to, or coming from, or anything of that nature".

Mr Orr said that although Hegarty lives two miles from the scene of the accident on the Lower Kildress Road, with its junction on the Drum Road, he had never travelled on that road before.

The court heard Hegarty drove his red BMW 320 Sport though the junction without stopping and collided with the blue Toyota Hilux pickup of a local farmer on his way home.

He told police all he could remember was a "red line in front of him".

A motorist following behind the Toyota described seeing a red BMW "simply coming out and the collision occurred".

As a result of the accident the BMW ended up against a telegraph pole facing in the direction of Omagh, while the pickup, after completing a 180 degree turn, finished up pointing back towards Cookstown from where it had just come.

Mr Orr said that a 'Give Way' sign and white road markings, including a white triangle and double lines, would have alerted anyone travelling down the Lower Kildress Road, that they were approaching a main road.

However, Mr Orr also revealed that instead of pointing up the road, alerting drivers to 'give way', the sign had been turned 90 degress and was pointing towards Cookstown.

"Someone", said Mr Orr, "had maliciously moved it".

The lawyer further revealed that earlier that day a man living opposite had noticed the warning sign had been turned, "which he knew wasn't right, so he corrected it". Later that day he saw it had been moved again. Unfortunately the man was in a hurry on this occasion, and the sign was left in the wrong position, and although it was later shielded from the weather, an attempt to obtain fingerprints, "proved negative".

The trial, expected to last until next week, continues today.

Belfast Telegraph


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