Teenager denies killing friend and injuring nun in car chase

Court
Court

A Belfast teenager has pleaded not guilty to killing his best friend and injuring a nun during a high-speed chase with police in Co Down.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared at Downpatrick Crown Court for a formal arraignment hearing on a total of six charges in relation to the fatal crash which happened 18 months ago.

Standing outside of the dock accompanied by his solicitor, the juvenile pleaded not guilty to causing the death of his 18-year-old friend Conal Daly and causing grievous bodily injury to Sisters of Mercy nun Josephine McAleer.

He also denied a charge of dangerous driving, two counts of assault on police and causing criminal damage to a PSNI vehicle.

The charges relate to an accident which happened on the Saintfield Road in Carryduff at 8.40pm on October 16, 2014.

It is alleged that the youth was driving a ‘runaround’ Jaguar car which crashed into a Volkswagen Polo being driven at the time by Sister McAleer, who sustained fractures to both legs in the collision.

The police pursuit of the Jaguar car started at the Ravenhill Road/Ormeau Road junction until it finally crashed into the Polo car.

The incident is currently the subject of a Police Ombudsman investigation.

Prosecution barrister Sam Magee said the trial would require a “full seven-day sitting of the court” to hear all the evidence in the case.

Defence QC Neil Rafferty told Judge Piers Grant that the juvenile “has no real memory of the accident itself’’.

He added that a police officer in the case was currently the subject of a Police Ombudsman investigation and a file on the matter had been submitted to the Public Prosecution Service for consideration.

Judge Grant remanded the juvenile back into custody to the Rathgael Centre in Bangor, Co Down, ahead of the start of his trial in June. The case will be reviewed next week.

Last month, the teenager was refused bail at the same court for “repeatedly breaching all previous bail conditions imposed on him’’.