Carndonagh tragedy case adjourned for further DPP review

Court
Court

The case against a Fahan man charged with motoring offences and who was involved in a collision in which a Carndonagh woman died, has been again adjourned to allow the DPP to review the case.

Austin Stewart, Ballinahone appeared at Carndonagh District Court on Tuesday on charges which arose from a fatal collision in Churchtown, Carndonagh on December 30th, 2013, in which local woman Maura Porter lost her life.

The 45-year-old is charged with driving without an NCT certificate, with no left front lamp, without a valid NCT disc displayed and with a bald tyre on that date.

At a previous court hearing, the case was adjourned after Mrs. Porter’s family asked the Director of Public Prosecution to review his charges.

At Tuesday’s sitting of the court, Garda Inspector David Murphy said this review process was still underway with senior counsel at the request of the DPP.

He requested an adjournment of two months for this process to be completed.

But, defence solicitor Ciaran MacLochlainn said Stewart had the case “hanging over him” since the previous adjournment three months ago.

He said when Stewart appeared on that occasion there had been a number of cameras and reporters and his client’s photo had been “plastered across” some of the local newspapers.

Mr MacLochlainn said this had caused “great harm” to his client and his family.

“The anxiety, nervousness and fear this has caused my client is untold,” he said.

He added the DPP had “effectively washed their hands” of the case and “farmed it out to senior counsel.”

Mr MacLochlainn said there was “nothing to stop” the case going ahead and the Gardai then had the option of pursuing more serious charges if “that’s the course they want to take.”

He added it was a “sad tale involving two families.”

“It had an untold effect on Mr Stewart’s family to see him pilloried in the newspapers,” he said.

Inspector Murphy said the process was underway with the DPP, pointing out how an event had occurred which had “tragic consequences for all involved.”

He said the process could take time and asked that the court would “exercise a certain degree of patience to facilitate the review.”

Inspector Murphy added that the media had a “certain job” and how they did it was a “matter for themselves.”

Judge Paul Kelly reiterated how the court had no involvement over how the media deal with cases before it, adding there were “sensitivities on both sides.”

He said he would grant the State a further period of time for review and adjourned the case, with peremptory against the defence, until April 21st next.