‘Missed another child by inches’- police tell court

A man accused of a hit-and-run on Benone allegedly almost collided with another child as he drove his car off the beach at speed.

An investigating officer told Derry Magistrates Court that eye-witnesses have reported the 30-year-old missed hitting another child ‘by inches’.

Police were contacted a short time after the accident and as they made their way towards Benone Beach officers spotted the red BMW coming in the opposite direction.

They followed it and signalled for it to stop using blue lights and sirens, however the car failed to stop. It is alleged Paul John Doherty of Ballynahone, Fahan, instead overtook another car and almost collided with the verge on the other side of the road.

The officer said that because of the nature of the driving and the speed of the car, the pursuit was called off and the police helicopter was tasked to the

Officers located the car a short time later parked in behind a house off the Baranailt Road. Doherty initially tried to run away from police and when they caught up with him he still had the key for the car in his hand.

The officer said the 30-year-old was ‘clearly intoxicated’ and a breath test later gave a reading of 73mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath, over twice the legal limit.

It was alleged that the registration number of the car had been removed and put into the boot of the car, however it was taxed and insured to Doherty and an address in Derry.

During interview, it was claimed the 30-year-old admitted driving the car and said he was ‘sorry’.

Defence solicitor Paddy McGurk told the court to accept this was a ‘one off’ for his client, who only has one previous motoring conviction for using a mobile phone.

He added Doherty has ‘never been in trouble before’ and “doesn’t appear to be the sort of person who wouldn’t turn up to court”.

Mr McGurk said his client was employed and from a ‘decent, respectful’ family and they were willing to offer a surety of 1000Euros.

Deputy District Judge Terence Dunlop said “this is an extremely serious matter and it is only by the grace of god that we are not dealing with a worse situation than the one we are dealing with”.

He added that the car had careered before the child and her mother on a beach ‘where they should consider themselves safe’.

The judge released Doherty on his own bail of £500, with the surety of 1000Euros and ordered him to report daily to police.

He was also banned from driving and from consuming alcohol and will appear in court again on August 19.