Coroner: Police crash probe into children’s deaths has ‘serious failings’

Nathan Gault who died shortly after the accident, which happened on Croaghrim Road in Florencecourt near Enniskillen
Nathan Gault who died shortly after the accident, which happened on Croaghrim Road in Florencecourt near Enniskillen

A coroner investigating a road crash that killed two schoolchildren has referred the case to prosecutors after raising concern that the phone call log of the driver was illegally altered.

Identifying “serious failings” in the police investigation of the collision that claimed the lives of Debbie Whyte, 14, and Nathan Gault, 15, coroner Suzanne Anderson said she had been unable to find a “satisfactory explanation” as to why two outgoing calls had apparently been deleted from the driver’s phone.

Flowers at the scene of the crash  in County Fermanagh Photo; Colm O'Reilly Pacemaker Press

Flowers at the scene of the crash in County Fermanagh Photo; Colm O'Reilly Pacemaker Press

Driver Yvonne Seaman, who knocked down the two pupils as they walked along a dark country road near Florencecourt, Co Fermanagh, in November 2008, said she made two missed calls to her sister after pulling off the road and parking up minutes before the crash.

But logs of the calls were not on her phone when later examined by police.

Announcing her decision to refer the case to the Public Prosecution Service as she delivered her inquest findings at Belfast Coroner’s Court, Ms Anderson said: “It would appear that someone has deleted them (the two calls) and in doing so it would appear that an offence has been committed.”

Outside court, the family of Debbie Whyte welcomed the coroner’s findings.

As the teenager’s sister Louise and father Colin looked on, family solicitor Matthew McKenna said: “For almost 10 years they have been searching for the truth as to what happened on that fateful night.

“The family has spent a decade campaigning for a proper inquest into Debbie’s death.

“This has involved getting a second inquest where many issues that were not touched upon during the initial proceedings have been ventilated.”

He added: “As the coroner has sent a file to the PPS it is the family’s hope that a proper investigation into the phone activity may yet take place.”