Derry man (28) bailed after crashing into house

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A 28 year-old Derry man accused of crashing a car into a house while more than twice the legal alcohol limit has been given bail after appearing at the local Magistrate’s Court today.

Sam McGinley, of 26 Argyle Street, faces charges of dangerous driving, driving while unfit through drink or drugs, failing to stop, failing to report and failing to remain at the scene of the crash at Cornshell Fields on Sunday last. He faces a further charge of assaulting a man at the scene.

Opposing bail, a police officer said she was concerned that the accused may interfere with witnesses or flee the jurisdiction.

She added that the accused “appears to be engaged in serious organised crime in the Foyle area”. However, a defence solicitor said there was no evidence from his client’s previous convictions to support such a claim.

The court heard that the accused has 34 previous convictions - including 15 for road traffic offences - in the North and 32 previous convictions in the Republic of Ireland.

The police officer told the court that police received a report that a car had crashed into the house at Cornshell Fields at around 6.45pm on Sunday. She said there was significant damage to the car, which belonged to the accused, and the “structural integrity” of the house.

She said that after offering to pay for any damage at the scene, the defendant then intimidated a witness when he urged them not to call the police. She said he attempted to punch a witness.

The police officer said that police found the accused in his boxer shorts upstairs in his nearby cousin’s house shortly afterwards. He was arrested and a breath test revealed he was more than twice in excess of the legal alcohol limit to drive.

She said the accused was “very remorseful” for his actions during police interview and stated that he drank “a couple of vodkas and a couple of beers”. He denied an assault charge, she said.

The officer further told the court that the accused said he had seen a male with whom he had a long-running feud driving a van and drove at around 35-40mph to evade him before losing control of the vehicle.

Bail was granted in the sum of £1,000 with several conditions including a night-time curfew, electronic tagging, not to drive a vehicle, not to enter a 500 metre radius of Cornshell Fields, no contact with witnesses, no alcohol consumption and report daily to police,

The case was adjourned to Derry Magistrate’s Court on November 14.