Belfast Telegraph

Martin Patterson and Shane McAnallen vindicated over claims car evaded checkpoint before fatal crash, says mum

Michael McAnallen and Angela Patterson with photographs of their sons
Michael McAnallen and Angela Patterson with photographs of their sons

By Gillian Halliday

The mother of a young Co Down man killed in a car crash with his best friend has said her son has been vindicated after a police watchdog found they did not evade a Garda checkpoint.

Martin Patterson (20) and Shane McAnallen, who was also in his 20s, died in the crash near Carlingford on the Cooley Peninsula in Co Louth in March.

Initial media reports claimed the young men, who were from Newcastle, had driven through a Garda checkpoint.

It was also reported that the car went off the road and down an embankment.

Martin's mother, Angela Patterson, yesterday welcomed the Garda Ombudsman's statement that the initial information about the checkpoint was incorrect.

She said that "we knew from the very first day when we went to the Garda station that was the case".

"This (wrong information) has dragged the boys' two names through the mud," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"It made it out that they had been up to no good.

"Now we have the Ombudsman statement - it's just like a weight off our shoulders."

The two friends were buried side by side following separate funeral services.

Mrs Patterson said her son, who was known as Marty, had been due to celebrate his 21st birthday just three weeks later.

She said it had been a frustrating period for both families - including her husband Colin, and Martin's siblings, James and Danielle.

The Co Down woman claimed that when they arrived at the Garda station after the crash, they were at first told that Martin and Shane, who was driving, had ploughed through a police checkpoint.

"After we identified Marty's body, the head Ombudsman was there and told us that there was no checkpoint," she said.

At that stage she asked if that information could be passed on to the media, in order to clarify the reports.

However, she claimed they were informed that this wouldn't be allowed to take place until after the young men's inquests had taken place.

Mrs Patterson said she hasn't been able to grieve properly for her son because of how the two deaths had been reported.

"It is so hard. You never expect to bury your child," she said. "Then to have people forming an opinion on your child based on those media reports.

"When we returned to Newcastle that night every news report that went out said that."

She said the reputations of both Martin and Shane had been damaged within the local community as a result of the initial reports, which she says have sparked erroneous and hurtful rumours.

"Their names have been driven into the mud," she said. "Marty was in the GAA, they both played. Marty had done a lot of work for charity. He had been to Romania the last three years teaching about the Bible.

"He also brought stuff over there with him.

"Shane was working away and seeing a girl. They were both crazy about cars."

The mother explained that they still don't know how the collision occurred.

"It has been reported that the car left the road. None of us is 100% sure what happened," she said. "Around 8.30pm that night Marty told me, 'Me and Shane are going to Carlingford for a spin in the car'."

A Garda Ombudsman spokesperson last night said that an investigation into the incident is ongoing, but confirmed that previous reports about the collision were wrong.

"Initial media reports stated the vehicle driven by the two males ran a Garda checkpoint. Contrary to these reports this information was incorrect. The vehicle did not evade a checkpoint," they said.

Stressing that she hopes the inquests will give them further answers, Mrs Patterson said she cannot articulate the extent of the pain she feels at the loss of her son.

"It's unreal. You couldn't put into words what its like," she explained.

The mother said that her son and Shane were inseparable and both young men would have be en at a McAnallen family wedding being held today if they were alive.

"They were always together and now they are lying side-by-side each other in Bryansford graveyard," added Mrs Patterson.

The Belfast Telegraph contacted Garda for a response. However, none was received at the time of going to press.

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