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Witness heard bomb-like bang from crash that claimed life of Charly-Jean, court told

By Staff Reporter

A 26-year-old man has gone on trial accused of causing the death of teenager Charly-Jean Thompson by careless driving.

Lee Walter Hegarty, of Molesworth Road, Cookstown, is also accused of causing grievous bodily harm to Ryan McCracken in the same incident on August 14, 2013. He denies the charges.

Charly-Jean (15) was a rear seat passenger in a BMW being driven by Hegarty when it collided with a Toyota Helix jeep at Drum Road, Cookstown, before striking a telegraph pole.

Mr McCracken, who was 17 at the time, was a front seat passenger in the BMW, and had to be cut free from the wreckage.

A prosecutor told the jury at Dungannon Crown Court that the BMW driven by Hegarty was travelling on the Kildress Road, Cookstown, and did not stop at the junction with Drum Road, colliding with the jeep.

Charly-Jean, who had been seated behind Hegarty, was found with her head slightly to the left and there was blood on her lap. A passer-by who stopped to assist said she did not respond when he spoke to her, but there was a pulse at her neck. The teenager was taken to Craigavon Area Hospital, before being transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital, but she passed away from her injuries four days later.

The court heard that the following day an investigating police officer observed that the Give Way sign at the junction between the two roads was facing away from the direction it should have been.

Efforts were made to obtain fingerprints from the sign, but proved unsuccessful.

The driver of the jeep involved in the collision, Noel Allen, explained he was returning home to Cookstown at about 9.30pm on the date and there was light rain, the road was damp and there were no streetlights.

Mr Allen said: "I was doing about 50mph and there was no traffic on the road in front, although there was a vehicle behind me. The car came out of the Kildress Road. It was going so hard it was on me in no time. I didn't have time to brake."

The impact occurred and Mr Allen described "going over the roof of the car" before his jeep was sent spinning some distance, coming to rest in the opposite direction.

He was unable to exit his vehicle as neither the driver nor front passenger door would open.

He became aware of smoke and, fearing there would be an explosion, crawled into the rear seat and managed to push open a door and get out.

Highly shocked, Mr Allen was taken to Antrim Area Hospital and continues to suffer from pain.

Mark Glasgow, who lives close to the scene, was in his home when the collision occurred.

He said: "I heard a massive bang - it sounded like a bomb.

"There was no screeching of brakes beforehand."

Mr Glasgow went to the scene to assist, where he checked on Mr Allen, who was known to him.

He then approached the BMW and spoke to Hegarty who appeared "stunned, but uninjured".

Mr McCracken was conscious but appeared to be trapped by his leg against the telegraph pole.

Charly-Jean was being tended to by a number of people, one of whom was a nurse who had stopped at the scene.

Mr Glasgow noticed the Give Way sign was facing the wrong way and he told the court it had happened on a few occasions in the past.

He corrected it the morning after the crash, but later that day it had been moved back the wrong way and was covered with a plastic sheeting. The court heard this had been done by forensic officers recreating the scene.

The trial continues and is expected to last about a week.

Belfast Telegraph

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