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Man who knocked pal down not a death-driver, appeal judges rule

A motorist who drove off after a collision that left his friend dying by a roadside has won an appeal against being convicted of causing death offences.

Senior judges in Belfast also halved a suspended jail sentence imposed on Daniel Michael Loughran for failing to remain at the scene of the accident that claimed the life of Mark Henry.

Despite describing Loughran's subsequent actions as "callous", Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan recognised that his driving was not to blame in the tragedy.

Mr Henry died after being struck by a Subaru car driven by the 26-year-old appellant near Newtownhamilton, Co Armagh, in the early hours of July 4, 2010.

He had just lost control of his own Peugeot 208 and got out onto the Dundalk Road when the collision occurred.

Loughran, of Mcrory's Road in Newtownhamilton, was convicted of causing death by driving without a licence and without insurance, failing to stop or remain at the scene of an accident, and having no licence or insurance. In 2012 he was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for two years, and disqualified from driving for three years.

But his legal team appealed the two causing death convictions based on new Supreme Court jurisprudence that there must be some fault in the defendant's driving. Sir Declan, sitting with Lord Justice Girvan and Mr Justice Deeny, said: "We quash the causing death counts because there's no basis for establishing any form of fault on the part of the appellant."

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But reducing the suspended jail sentence from six to three months, he said the original term had been influenced by the now quashed causing death charges.

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