A Co Fermanagh teen who caused the death of his friend after taking his mother’s Renault Megane for an afternoon spin, even though he could not drive, has been sentenced to eight months in a Young Offenders’ Centre.
Christopher McKenna was 17 when on October 27, 2013, his careless driving resulted in the death of 20-year-old Stephen Mark Gilmour, just 200 yards from the latter’s home in Dromore, Co Tyrone.
McKenna – now aged 19 and from Glenarm Close, Lack in Co Fermanagh – admitted driving without due care and attention, causing his friend’s death, and also taking the Renault without the consent of the owner and driving without insurance.
He had admitted to police to being a provisional licence holder, but not having taken any lessons.
Mr Gilmour had been a rear seat passenger in the grey Megan which crashed on the nearby Omagh Road, shortly before 3.30pm.
Dungannon Crown Court judge McReynolds told McKenna that, but for the death of his friend, she would have suspended his sentence.
The court heard that five days after the tragic accident McKenna voluntarily went with his solicitor to police and admitted speeding and taking the car without his mother’s consent.
He recalled turning the car into a left hand corner. After that he remembered nothing of the incident.
When asked why the collision had occurred, McKenna replied, “I honestly don’t know. I think the road surface was wet and I lost control.”
On being asked as to the excessive speed, McKenna said, “I think just the spur of the moment got caught up in the whole thing.”
A witness described how the car “somersaulted” after leaving the road.
Pronounced dead at the scene, a post mortem later confirmed Mr Gilmour’s death was virtually instantaneous.