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DEATH CRASH SIGN ‘MOVED’

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

DEATH CRASH SIGN ‘MOVED’ thumbnailThe scene of the tragic crash on the Drum Road in 2013.

A WEEK-long trial at Dungannon Crown Court has been told that a Give Way sign near a junction where teenage Tyrone girl lost her life after a two-vehicle collision at Cookstown, had been "maliciously moved".
Fifteen-year-old Charly-Jean Thompson was a back seat passenger in a Red BMW that was in collision with a Toyota Hilux Jeep at Drum Road at around 9.40 pm on August 14, 2013.
Ryan McCracken, aged 17, a front seat passenger was injured in the accident in the vehicle driven by the defendant, 25-year-old Lee Walter Hegarty, Molesworth Road, Cookstown.
The jury failed to reach a verdict yesterday, Monday.
The jury of eight men and four women will return this morning (Tuesday) to continue their deliberations before Judge Neil Rafferty at Dungannon Crown Court
The judge told the jury he would accept a majority verdict but the panel failed to reach agreement after just over three hours deliberations.


Charly-Jean Thompson died in the Royal Victoria Hospital four days after the crash after being initially treated in Craigavon Area Hospital, while Ryan McCracken was taken to Craigavon Area Hospital suffering from a pelvic injury, but was later released.
Charly-Jean Thompson died from "multiple injuries", the court was told.
The defendant Hegarty pleaded not guilty to a charge that he caused the death of Charly-Jean Thompson by careless driving at Drum Road on August 14 2013.
He also pleaded not guilty to a charge that he caused grievous bodily harm to Ryan McCracken by careless driving at Drum Road, Cookstown Road on the date in question.
Prosecutor John Orr QC told the eight-man and four woman jury on the opening day of the 25-year-old defendant's trial, that when questioned by Police, the defendant said he had never been on the Drum Road before and he lived in Cookstown.
Hegarty said he did not know what had happened and had no recollection of where he was going to or coming from, the court heard.
Mr Orr told the court that Hegarty's Red BMW 320 Sport came straight through a junction between the Old Kildress Road and Drum Road and was in collision with a Toyota Hilux Jeep driven by farmer Samuel Allen.
The collision resulted in the jeep doing a 180 degrees turn and ended up facing Omagh in the opposite direction from which it had been coming.
The Red BMW finished up resting against a telegraph pole almost pointing in the direction of Omagh.
The court heard the farmer had been on his way home from the far side of Cookstown where he had been tending to cattle.
Mr Orr added that if the Give Way sign had been in its normal place, it would have been pointing up the Lower Kildress Road, to tell drivers that they had to give way.
At the time of the accident, the sign had been turned around 90 degrees and was pointing towards Cookstown.
As a result, one of the things that could give a warning to the defendant that he was approaching a main road was not there.
However the court was told the presence of a white triangle and double white lines should have alerted the defendant that he was approaching a main road, the court heard.
Mr Orr said that Mark Glasgow, the owner of a house at the junction, would tell the court that he noticed the Give Way sign had been altered by 90 degrees.
He corrected it, so that the sign was pointing up the Lower Kildress road.
Later at 7 pm in the evening, he noticed the sign was pointing in the wrong direction, but he did not change it as he had business to attend to.
The jury was shown a number of maps for the alleged location of the accident and also shown a red dotted line around the vehicles where debris came off as a result of the collision.
A green line would delineate the respective tyre marks.
The jury was told that Samuel Allen, the jeep driver, would tell the court that all he could see was a red line in front of him and he was not sure if he had time to brake or not.
Another witness David Thomas, who was travelling from Omagh and was about 50-100 yards back from the junction, would tell the court he saw the collision.
A third witness Mark Hill, who was driving behind the Hilux Jeep, would tell the court that he saw brake lights coming on in Mr Allen's jeep.
Mr Orr told the court the jury they would also be hearing from paramedics and various other people who dealt with issues in the case.
They would also be hearing from two doctors about the injuries that led to the death of Charly-Jean Thompson and the injuries sustained by Ryan McCracken.
The court would also be hearing evidence from Lindsay McCormack, a forensic scientist.
In his closing speech to the jury, Prosecutor Simon Reid said the defendant was facing a careless driving charge which meant his driving fell below what would be expected of a careful and competent driver with regards to the circumstance he should be expected to be aware of.
He added that factors in assessing the case included the road layout and the scene of the accident.
The weather conditions, the time of day and lighting and what the eyewitnesses allegedly saw, were also key factors.
Eyewitness Samuel Allen said he was doing around 55 mph as he approached the junction when he saw a red car speeding into the junction and it came straight through the junction.
Another eyewitness David Thomas said he saw the same car emerging from the junction, but he did not see any brake lights on the other car.
It showed no signs of stopping as it came straight out of the junction.
The defendant said he had no memory of the time of the collision and had been driving for five years and drove up to 7,000 miles per year.
He had no physical health issues, was well rested, the car was well maintained and had no mechanical defects.
The defendant had been in town with Charly-Jane Thompson and Ryan McCracken earlier that day but that was his last memory.
He said he did not know the Lower Kildress Road and had never been on it before.
The defendant did not give evidence to the court.
It was the Prosecution case that the defendant must take into account the road conditions and what may arise.
Eyewitness David Thomas said he had reduced his speed because of the rain and he did not know the road.
He added that the defendant came through the junction and did not react to the fact that he was crossing a main road.
Nobody saw any brake lights.
The defendant was driving in the rain in failing light on a road that he said he had never been on before, stated the Prosecution.
He did not have the benefit of a Give Way sign, but there were other signs on the road to warn him, the court heard.
The description of his coming straight through the junction pointed strongly to him not driving with due care and attention.
So it was "incumbent" on him, when driving on a road that he did not know, in certain weather conditions to take due care and attention and he failed to do so.
Defence counsel Jim Gallagher told the jury that this was not an accident at all.
The counsel said the defendant did all he could to avoid the collision and the responsibility lay with those who "maliciously" moved a Give Way not far from the scene of the collision.
“The responsibility for this dreadful tragedy does not lie with this young man in the dock.
“We say the wrong man is in the dock.
“The person who should be here in the dock is out there in society and he/she is probably reading a paper about this case knowing what they have done.
‘The responsibility lies squarely with those person or persons. It was not an accident at all.
He added that this was "carefully planned by a malicious person who succeeded in getting what they wanted.
Mr Gallagher said that most of the Prosecution evidence was about the difficulties that presented themselves to the defendant.
He said the Prosecution was saying the defendant was a "criminal who ought to be convicted and sentenced".
Mr Gallagher said if any driver knew there was a Give Way sign near a junction, he would not drive through that junction unless he had a death wish.
And that should prove beyond all doubt that the defendant did not know about the Give Way sign.
The defendant was only travelling at from 8-22 mph at the point of impact.
The Prosecution was not alleging speed or that he was in his mobile phone and he was sober.
Mr Gallagher said weather conditions were a very significant factor in the case.
Witness Mark Glasgow, who lived close to the scene of the collision, said the ground was wet and visibility was very poor.
The warning road marking triangle was worn and faded in places and there were no reflective signs.
The probability was that the defendant would not have seen the road markings until he was a few metres from the marking.
And even if he had been able to see the sign at 30 metres, he would only have two seconds until he was on top of the junction.
The court heard the remarkable thing was that the defendant did manage to brake which did not indicate a lack of due care and attention.
According to the defence, this showed beyond doubt that he was driving with due care and attention that he was able to react so quickly.
Mr Gallagher said there was medical evidence that the defendant had a head injury in the accident that could help cause amnesia.
Counsel said the height of the Prosecution case was that despite the weather conditions and the missing sign, they were saying Hegarty ought to have seen a faded road marking.

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