Crash accused ‘went to ground’ for year

The M2
The M2

A man accused of seriously injuring another motorist in a head-on collision by driving the wrong way on a Belfast motorway “went to ground” for a year, a court heard yesterday.

Police claimed 35-year-old David Shields could not be located following a crash on the M2 where the victim had to be cut from wreckage in December 2014.

Shields, of Dunclug Gardens in Ballymena, Co Antrim, was returned for trial but refused bail.

He faces charges of causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving and two counts of dangerous driving.

The alleged offences were committed on the motorway’s northbound carriageway, and in the areas of Ascot Gardens, Saintfield Road and Upper Knockbreda Road in Belfast.

During a previous hearing it was revealed that the victim sustained a shattered pelvis and serious head injuries.

As the accused appeared before Belfast Magistrates’ Court for a preliminary enquiry, his lawyer did not dispute claims that he has a prima facie case to answer.

Asked if he wanted to say anything in response to the charges, give evidence or call witnesses at this stage, Shields replied: “No.”

A police constable involved in the case opposed an application for bail, claiming there was a risk of flight.

“He went to ground for approximately one year (after) December 14,” the officer said.

“Our concern would be that he would fail to appear for trial.”

Defence counsel disputed any suggestion his client went missing or made himself unavailable.

He said Shields had been arrested, interviewed and then released.

It was also argued that the accused should be released due to “substantial, unexplained delay” in the case.

However, Deputy District Judge Liam McStay denied bail, citing the risk of flight.

Granting a prosecution application to have Shields returned for trial at Belfast Magistrates’ Court, he remanded him in custody until those proceedings get under way at a later date.