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Speed, weather and alcohol led to tragic deaths of young parents

A 19-year-old mother from Londonderry died from horrific injuries when a car driven by her boyfriend crashed into a tree in treacherous weather, an inquest heard.

Roisin Doherty, of Cornshell Fields, was a front seat passenger in the Rover 600 car when the tragedy happened near Muff in Donegal, just over the border from Derry.

Derry Coroner's Court heard how Miss Doherty had been for a night out to celebrate St Patrick's Day in 2007.

The teenager was returning home in a taxi with her friend when she received a series of agitated texts from her boyfriend Anthony Doherty, who shared the same surname but was no relation. There was also a total of 27 missed calls in the space of 30 minutes.

The court heard how within 15 minutes of her friend leaving the taxi, Ms Doherty was involved in the fatal crash on a bend in the Racecourse Road. The car left the road and hit a tree.

Ms Doherty, who was the mother of a baby girl, sustained fatal injuries and died later in hospital. Mr Doherty was declared dead at the scene.

An investigation by a Garda Collision Investigation team found that the car's two front tyres were excessively worn and Ms Doherty was not wearing her seatbelt.

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Reading a statement in court, Coroner Miss J Donnelly said: “Roisin was a front seat passenger in a car that was being driven at around 3am when the driver lost control attempting to negotiate a left hand bend on the Racecourse Road.

“There were a number of contributing factors including excessive speed given the adverse treacherous weather conditions, the excessive wear on both the front tyres and the fact there was 137 mg of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. (The legal limit is 80 mg).

“We can assume the driver was in a overwrought emotional state due to the high number of texts and calls sent to Roisin.

“Roisin got into the car a matter of minutes before the accident occurred.

“The driver died at the scene of the accident and Roisin died at Altnagelvin Hospital a short time later.”

The court was told the tragedy happened after Ms Doherty and her friend Seana Gibson had been for a night out in Derry.

The pair took a taxi home and then Ms Gibson got out and went home.

A statement from Garda Niall Maquire, who examined two mobile phones belonging to the couple, showed that a total of 27 missed calls were recorded on Ms Doherty's phone from 2:26am until 2:57am.

There was also a number of agitated texts from Mr Doherty.

One text sent from Ms Doherty's phone at 2:51am to Mr Doherty said that she was nearly home and that she would call him then.

Ms Gibson told the court that she and Ms Doherty got a taxi home at 2:30am.

She said she got out of the taxi at 2:45am and that Miss Doherty was less that five minutes from her own home.

Taxi driver James McDaid came across the crash scene and found Ms Doherty on the ground a short distance from the car. He called 999.

Garda Patrick Keavney, who has since retired, gave evidence that he attended the scene of the crash at 3:27am.

He said that he found the front of the car embedded in a tree and that the rear of the car was three feet into the air.

Ms Doherty's cause of death was given as multiple injuries. Mr Doherty's inquest has already been held.


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