Donegal man admits hit and run charges after mother and child are injured on Benone Beach

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A Donegal man has appeared at Derry Magistrate’s Court today charged in connection with a hit and run on Benone Beach yesterday which left a 4-year-old child and her mother in hospital.
30 year old Paul John Doherty of Ballynahone, Fahan faced a total of seven charges in connection with the incident which left the child with a broken collarbone.
He was charged with causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving on Benone Beach on July 21.
He also faced charges of failing to report an accident, failing to remain at the scene of an accident and failing to stop again on the same date.
Doherty was also charged with driving while unfit through drink or drugs, dangerous driving on the Seacoast Road and failing to stop for police.
A PSNI constable connected Doherty to the charges, saying that the our-year-old child and her mother were struck by a Red BMW on Benone Beach shortly before 1 p.m. He said that witnesses told police that the car had been driven at speed and one alleged that at one stage all four wheels had left the ground. The BMW was also reported to have been doing handbrake turns on the beach and it was during one of these that the mother and child were struck.
The constable said that another witness reported that another child playing in the sand ‘was missed by inches’ as Doherty drive away after the original incident.
The constable said that police spotted the car on the Seacoast Road and pursued Doherty using their lights and sirens but the car increased its speed and overtook other vehicles almost colliding with the verge.
Police stopped the pursuit due to the speed Doherty was allegedly travelling at and sent for the police helicopter.
The helicopter located the car parked behind a house on the Barnailt Road hidden from the main road.
Police went there and Doherty tried to run away but was stopped. The constable said that the registration plates had been removed from the car.
He said that Doherty was unsteady on his feet and a breath test revealed him to be twice the legal limit.
Doherty admitted driving the car and said he had been with friends who he refused to identify.
He claimed to have had two cans of beer on the beach and another two after he parked behind the house.
He told police that he saw the child and swerved to avoid her and hit the mother. However, the constable said that the mother said she was holding her daughter by the hand and saw the car coming towards her so she picked the child up into her arms.
The PSNI opposed bail on the grounds that they were serious offences and that there was great public interest in the case. He said that Doherty’s driving documents related to an address in Derry but that house had been vacant for about ten years.
Doherty made no rely when charged.
Defence solicitor Mr. Paddy McGurk said his client admitted the offences. He said that the address used by Doherty was his aunt’s house that was vacant but he used it as he worked in the North. He said his client was in no doubt about the seriousness of the situation and that his parents were in court with a cash surety and Doherty’s passport.
He called Doherty’s employer who said that such an incident was ‘not in Doherty’s nature’.
Deputy District Judge Terence Dunlop said it was ‘an extremely serious matter’ when a 4-year-old child suffered a fractured collar bone as she walked on a beach.
He said he was concerned about the fact that Doherty drive some distance after the ‘reprehensible offences’
He said it was with ‘some reluctance’ that he was granting bail. He released Doherty on bail with one cash surety, on condition he report daily to the police, banned him from driving while on bail and ordered that he have no contact with the injured party or any witnesses in the case.
Doherty will appear again on August 19.

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