Struck mother and daughter on beach

Editorial image.
Editorial image.

A man who struck a four-year-old girl and her mother while doing handbrake turns on a beach ‘regrets’ his behaviour, a court has heard.

Paul John Doherty, of Ballynahone, Fahan, Co. Donegal, pleaded guilty totwo charges of dangerous driving and two charges of driving with excess alcohol.

The 31-year-old also admitted failing to stop or remain where an accident occurred on July 21, last year.

Derry Crown Court heard that Doherty was performing handbrake turns when he struck the four-year-old and her mother. Doherty then fled from the beach at speed.

The child sustained a fractured collarbone and bruising and her mother was badly bruised as a result of the collision.

Doherty was chased by police on the Seacoast Road and they tried to stop him using lights and sirens. However, the 31-year-old didn’t stop and overtook a car, causing oncoming traffic to swerve to avoid a collision.

The court was told Doherty travelled at speeds of up to 70mph and the police helicopter was deployed.

The car was located a short time later at the rear of a house on the Barnailt Road and the number plates had been removed. Doherty was caught in nearby fields.

It was revealed the 31-year-old has two previous convictions in the Republic of Ireland for dangerous driving and both of these involved handbrake turns.

A victim impact report on the mother said she had nightmares after the accident and she thought she would be killed. She also said she would not feel safe on Benone beach again.

Her seven-year-old son, who witnessed the accident, was also affected by it.

Defence counsel Joe Brolly told the court his client apologised during police interview and accepts it is a ‘terrible thing to put a mother and daughter in hospital’.

He added that Doherty regrets the whole thing and knows his driving was ‘out of control and dangerous’.

Judge Philip Babington adjourned sentencing until next week and Doherty was released on continuing bail.