Belfast Telegraph

Fatal collision driver who left scene received penalty points, inquest hears

Reece Meenan's mum Veronica
Reece Meenan's mum Veronica
Alan Nesbitt
13-year-old Reece
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

The driver of a car involved in a fatal hit-and-run collision with a 13-year-old boy received eight penalty points on his licence for leaving the scene, a Coroner's Court has heard.

Alan Nesbitt was behind the wheel of a Volvo that struck Coleraine boy Reece Meenan (13) as he crossed Newbridge Road in the town on November 26, 2016.

He told the court he did not stop at the scene because he "feared for his safety".

The Coroner's Court sitting in Coleraine heard the Public Prosecution Service accepted there was "no criticism" of the manner of Mr Nesbitt's driving at the time of the tragedy, but the penalty points were imposed after he admitted he left the scene.

Mr Nesbitt told Coroner Joe McCrisken he was travelling on the road at around 6.30pm, preparing to overtake a car, when he noticed "a guy running out in front of the car in front" of him and that this person had run into the central reservation of the dual carriageway.

He said he then noticed a group of people in dark clothing and was concerned someone would run out in front of him, so he lifted his foot off the accelerator, but did not brake.

He said that just as he was passing the group "a young lad came out in front of me, running", but he didn't have time to swerve into the other lane because it happened within "one second".

He told the court he was aware he had hit someone, but he thought he had run on to the other side of the road.

Asked why he did not stop, Mr Nesbitt said: "I was afraid for my own safety, knife crime came into my head.

"I knew they were young (the group), but I didn't know what age they were.

"I thought they were around my age (23).

"They were wearing dark clothing and had hoods up. I was concerned for my safety."

Mr Nesbitt told the court he thought he had struck Reece "a glancing blow", but contacted the police as soon as he saw a PSNI post on social media about the serious nature of the collision.

One of Reece's friends with him on the night he died also gave evidence.

He cannot be named for legal reasons, but he told the court he was standing on the footpath with Reece talking while their other friends were standing on the other side of the dual carriageway, having crossed the road before them.

The boy said there was no traffic on the road at all and it was only when Reece was almost at the white line between the two lanes of road that he became aware of the car that struck Reece.

He said Reece had crossed the road at a jogging pace and that he was following about four or five paces behind when he first became aware of the car being driven by Mr Nesbitt.

He said after the collision he ran to his friend and it was only moments after he realised the car wasn't there.

The court also heard from a number of motorists who had driven past the scene and had seen the group of young people either on the side of the road or on the central reservation just prior to the collision.

These included John Mullan, who said he was most aware of two people running across the road in front of him, "one ran across in good time, the second was closer", resulting in him having to brake quiet hard.

He told the court he had "the sense it was a last-minute dash".

"I got the feeling this was deliberate; this was merely a perception," he said.

The inquest continues.

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