Belfast Telegraph

'He laughed in our faces': daughters of man run over by killer driver brother

Fiona, Tina and Majella McCafferty, daughters of Patrick McCafferty
Fiona, Tina and Majella McCafferty, daughters of Patrick McCafferty
Francis McCafferty outside Dungannon Courthouse
Patrick McCafferty

By Michael Donnelly

A farmer who was banned from driving when he killed his brother in a hit-and-run five years ago, "laughed" at his nieces after being jailed for six months yesterday and barred again from driving for five years.

Patrick McCafferty (49) died after he was hit by a car on Tullychurry Road outside Belleek in the early hours of January 5, 2014.

Behind the wheel of the blue Ford Focus was his 45-year-old brother Francis McCafferty from Grout Hall, Laghey, Co Donegal, who admitted causing death by careless driving and driving while disqualified and uninsured.

Yesterday three of his nieces listened as Judge Stephen Fowler QC acknowledged that the distress and hurt caused by the "tragic death" of their father had been immense, but said that "no term of months or years imposed" could reconcile a family to their loss, "nor will it cure their anguish".

However, as McCafferty was being led from the dock at Dungannon Crown Court, he banged on a glass panel beside the public gallery and mouthed something at his nieces.

Outside court two of the women, Fiona and Tina McCafferty, claimed that their uncle laughed at them and has never shown any remorse for the pain and hurt he had caused them and their family.

The women said that while they could not make out what he was "muttering", he "laughed basically in all of our faces".

Tina McCafferty complained that: "He gets to walk away in six months' time and live the rest of his life whatever way he wants to."

She had described the court experience as "just disgusting... after five years we have to go through that at the end of a court where there's no justice for any of us.

"We are not happy at the outcome at all. I think he should have got a lot longer for everything that he has done... and he gets to walk away.

"There's no words for what pain he's caused us. Maybe if he ever would have admitted to what he did and maybe apologise it would have eased some of it," she added.

"It just seems he didn't care about him the way we care, but it's us that's left without a father now."

Fiona McCafferty, echoing the hurt she said their uncle had caused them all, added that her father had played a big part in all of their lives and in the lives of their children, but that now "he won't get to see his grandkids grow up".

She also claimed that her uncle never "cared the way we care, and it's us that's left without a father".

Last week prosecution QC Ciaran Murphy explained that McCafferty had been giving his brother and others a lift home, but that they argued, as they often did.

However, although he drove away, he returned a short time later, and as Mr Murphy claimed, drove into the area where he would have known his brother and the other pedestrians were present.

Then, having driven into his brother, who had been standing in the middle of the road, throwing him into the air, McCafferty fled and "subsequently engaged in a charade as to what had happened".

Gardai who later found the car arrested him on suspicion of murder, but he denied being involved, telling them: "I didn't hit him. I didn't do it. I wasn't driving the car."

Two days later he gave a statement in which he admitted being the driver, but claimed that it was an accident.

He said that he had been driving at 30mph when "he (Pat) ran straight out. I just hit him. I didn't think anything was wrong".

He was arrested by the PSNI in 2018 and made denials and "no comment" replies during the course of six interviews, the court heard.

Mr Murphy said while experts estimated McCafferty had been driving at "a relatively slow speed", it was on "a narrow country road where he knew there were pedestrians present, who had consumed alcohol... and a real risk of colliding with them as he is driving within the limits of his headlights on a dark night". The lawyer added: "His grossly irresponsible behaviour in leaving the scene and the charade in which he engaged in relation to the vehicle are aggravating features."

Defence QC James Gallagher said it was estimated that the father-of-two and carer for his elderly mother would have "left about half a second" to avoid his brother.

He said he was dressed in black and "highly intoxicated" when he took the "rash" decision to step into the middle of the road in an attempt to stop his car.

Mr Gallagher said that initially a "remorseful and sad" McCafferty could not accept what he had done, "given the enormity of what occured and the fact it was his brother".

Counsel said that the "essence" of the case was that McCafferty should have taken "greater control" of his driving, but had not.

He said that on "a dark unlighted country road, a driver, not driving at any great speed, is confronted unfortunately by a person who came out in front of him".

Belfast Telegraph


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