‘Ombudsman hid reports’ from family of Co Derry teenager killed in crash

Police Ombudsman
Police Ombudsman

Police Ombudsman reports into the pursuit of a drunk driver who later crashed and killed his passenger were concealed from the victim’s family, the High Court heard on Monday.

As the mother of Claire Kelly abandoned her legal challenge to the decision not to prosecute the PSNI officer who gave chase, her lawyer also launched a withering attack on the watchdog.

Denise McAuley’s solicitor accused the ombudsman of keeping reports into the incident secret and vowed to refer the case to the First and Deputy First Ministers.

Her 20-year-old daughter Claire was killed in a night-time road accident near their home in Dungiven, Co Derry December 2011.

Miss Kelly had been a passenger in a Renault Clio driven by Kevin Brolly and pursued by police after speeding off from a checkpoint in the village of Feeny.

The car later crashed into a field and overturned, trapping the victim inside. She later died in hospital.

Brolly, 26, from Rannyglass in Dungiven, pleaded guilty to causing her death by careless driving, drink-driving and having no insurance.

He was handed a three-year sentence and disqualified from driving for five years.

A judicial review of the decision not to prosecute the PSNI officer was set to get under way on Monday, but Mrs McAuley’s barrister instead asked the court to dismiss the challenge based on new information.

He said the PPS has now disclosed up to four previous unseen reports from the ombudsman’s office – three containing recommendations from three separate investigators.

One recommended Officer A be prosecuted for dangerous driving, another for careless driving and speeding, while the senior investigator recommended no prosecution at all, the court heard.

A fourth report containing forensic analysis determined the police car may actually have been as low as 62mph, according to Mr Forde.

He said his client wanted to know why the ombudsman’s office submitted three separate investigators’ reports to prosecutors and allegedly hid this from her.