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Co Down Ferrari crash millionaire's bid to prove innocence


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Christopher Walsh

Christopher Walsh

The Ferrari

The Ferrari

Christopher Walsh

A shamed multi-millionaire property developer who wrote his Ferrari off when he crashed it while twice the legal limit is trying to appeal his conviction three years after the case ended.

South Belfast businessman Christopher Walsh famously hid in a hedge after smashing into two cars in Holywood, Co Down - and when cops asked if he had the keys to the crashed sportscar, he produced the keys for a Ferrari and a Porsche.

Normally a defendant has 28 days to lodge an appeal against their conviction and sentence - a time span which has expired many times over for Walsh, who got a five-year driving ban.

At the end of his day-long trial in February 2017, Walsh, from Mount Pleasant in Stranmillis, was convicted of driving with excess alcohol, careless driving, failing to stop and failing to remain after an accident.

At Downpatrick County Appeal Court last week, defence QC Greg Berry told Judge Philip Gilpin both the defence and prosecution had filed skeleton arguments on his "preliminary application to extend time" based on new evidence coming to light after Walsh's conviction. But a prosecuting counsel said "time limits are there for a reason and while there needs to be a balancing act ... there is also a need for finality".

Adjourning the case to Tuesday, Judge Gilpin said he would consider both skeleton arguments before giving his preliminary view and depending on that he would hear oral submissions as to the way forward.

It was a sunny day on September 26, 2015 when Walsh trashed his brand-new £150,000 Ferrari California T, losing control on a slight bend and incline, ploughing into two parked cars on the Belfast Road in Holywood.

After crashing into the Nissan Almera and Vauxhall Agila, Walsh left the scene of the accident but within 20 minutes he was arrested by an off-duty cop, hiding in bushes in the grounds of the HQ of the Catholic Maintained Schools offices just up the road.

Giving evidence to the court three years ago, Constable McMahon said that when he helped Walsh to stand up, "he was fairly unsteady on his feet" and his breath had a "strong smell of intoxicating liquor".

"I asked him if was he driving but he didn't answer me," said the officer, adding that when he asked Walsh if he had the keys to the Ferrari, "he took two keys out; one was a Porsche key and the other was the Ferrari key".

Arrested for driving while unfit and taken to Bangor station, the court heard Walsh initially refused to give an evidential sample until he spoke to a solicitor but that when he eventually did, he was found to be more than twice the legal limit.

Walsh ran a so-called 'hip flask defence', claiming he had consumed the alcohol AFTER the accident, but when giving evidence on his own behalf, the multi-millionaire property developer essentially claimed he had no memory of the incident. District Judge Peter King told Walsh he had "failed spectacularly" in his defence.

Two months later, in April 2017, Judge King banned Walsh from driving for five years after hearing that he had a previous conviction for drink driving in the late 1990s. Walsh was also ordered to complete 75 hours of community service and handed a £250 fine.

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