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Fatal crash accused ‘spoke nonchalantly about drinking alcohol before driving’

Two men died following the collision between a Ford Focus and a taxi on Belfast’s Ravenhill Road on Saturday.

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General view of Belfast Crown Court also known as Laganside Courts (PA)

General view of Belfast Crown Court also known as Laganside Courts (PA)

General view of Belfast Crown Court also known as Laganside Courts (PA)

A man accused of causing a fatal crash in Belfast spoke “nonchalantly” during a police interview about drinking six beers prior to the collision, a court has heard.

Adrian Ursu was refused bail after appearing before a district judge in Belfast on Monday accused with causing the death of two men by dangerous driving.

The 32-year-old, from Doonbeg Drive, Newtownabbey, is alleged to have driven a black Ford Focus car into the opposite lane of the Ravenhill Road in Belfast on Saturday night where it collided with an oncoming taxi.

One of the men who died has been named as 47-year-old Jon O’Hara from Belfast.

He was a rear seat passenger in the blue Skoda Octavia taxi.

The other victim, who has not been named publicly, was a passenger in the black Ford Focus Ursu is accused of driving.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard that a second rear seat passenger in the taxi is in intensive care in the Royal Victoria Hospital while the taxi driver has sustained serious back injuries.

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Two other passengers in the Ford Focus escaped serious injury.

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Crash victim Jon O’Hara, 47, from Belfast was a rear street passenger in the taxi (PSNI/PA)

Crash victim Jon O’Hara, 47, from Belfast was a rear street passenger in the taxi (PSNI/PA)

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Crash victim Jon O’Hara, 47, from Belfast was a rear street passenger in the taxi (PSNI/PA)

Ursu, a Romanian national who has lived in Northern Ireland for five years, appeared before court via video link from a police custody suite.

The court heard he had been treated in hospital prior to being arrested and charged.

As well as two counts of causing death by dangerous driving, Ursu faces two charges of causing grievous bodily harm by dangerous driving.

He spoke briefly at the outset of the hearing to confirm he understood the charges.

A police officer told district judge Mark McGarrity that he could connect Ursu to the charges.

The officer went on to outline details of the case.

He said police had viewed CCTV that showed the front and rear offside wheels of the Ford Focus crossing into the oncoming lane of the Ravenhill Road prior to the 9.10pm crash.

The officer said while forensic collision tests needed to be carried out, a preliminary viewing of the CCTV also indicated the Ford was travelling faster than other vehicles that passed the camera prior to the collision.

He said there was no indication of the break lights on the Ford being applied, indicating that Ursu may not have noticed the oncoming taxi.

The officer told the court that alcohol may have been a “contributing factor”.

He said a preliminary breath test had returned a reading of 83mg/100ml (the legal limit for breath tests is 35mg/100ml) and police were now waiting analysis of blood samples.

The officer said Ursu, who works as a plasterer, had admitted to drinking six beers during the day before the crash.

“During the interview Mr Ursu spoke about the day that he had beforehand,” said the officer.

“He finished work around 1pm and following that he met up with a friend that he works with and attended an off licence 20 minutes after finishing work.

“Throughout the day he speaks quite nonchalantly about consuming alcohol and then driving.

“He didn’t really seem to have any issue that he went home for a point in the day, ate something had a beer and then continued to drive back to an address in Belfast.

“So it appeared that he didn’t really seem to see any issues with consuming alcohol prior to driving his vehicle.”

A solicitor for the accused said his client had not been shown any CCTV of the incident before he was charged.

The judge rejected an application for bail, expressing concern about a risk of reoffending.

Ursu was remanded in custody until February 21.


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