Northern Ireland

Shannon McQuillan inquest: Expert witness questions whether it was ‘appropriate’ to leave teenager at side of road

Law student died after being knocked down in 2018

Shannon McQuillan and her boyfriend Owen McFerran
Shannon McQuillan died in 2018

An expert witness has questioned whether it was “appropriate” for emergency services to leave a drunk teenager knocked down and killed at the side of a country road after she left an ambulance.

Professor Charles Deakin gave evidence on the last day of an inquest into the death of Dunloy student Shannon McQuillan.

The 19-year-old died after she was struck by a van on the Moneynick Road, near Toome, in January 2018, a short time after leaving the back of an ambulance which was taking her to hospital.

Her boyfriend Owen McFerran (21), from Ballymoney, was left fighting for his life after the accident, which took place in the early hours of the morning on the old main Derry to Belfast road.

Shannon McQuillan (19) and Owen McFerran (21)
Shannon McQuillan (19) and Owen McFerran (21)

He has been left with life-changing injuries.

Last week coroner Joe McCrisken heard how an ambulance was called after Ms McQuillan, who had taken alcohol, fell in a car park in Magherafelt, Co Derry, on leaving a nightclub.

Ambulance staff later radioed for police after an altercation involving the law and criminology student and pulled in at a bus stop near Toome to await their arrival.

The inquest has previously heard that Ms McQuillan had wanted to leave the ambulance and later did so as police and medical staff looked on.

Giving evidence this week, her mother Colette McQuillan said that in a phone call her daughter told her that “the police put her out of the ambulance”.

The inquest has also heard that a PSNI sergeant, who was one of three officers who attended the scene, denied that the alleged republican views of a teenager’s family, which have been denied, had a bearing on how he dealt with her.

Last week he told the court he took the decision to allow Ms McQuillan and her boyfriend to leave the ambulance in the belief they were to be picked up by her mother.

It has also emerged that two off-duty officers failed to stop when they saw Ms McQuillan in the middle of the road after she left the ambulance.

During Thursday’s hearing, the coroner heard from a senior member of the Ambulance Service, which later set up a serious adverse incident review.

Parts of a report authored by Prof Deakin into the circumstances of Ms McQuillan’s death were also read to the coroner on Thursday.

The medical expert said that having reviewed a CCTV recording “showing Shannon and Owen dressed in light clothing, particularly Shannon, I would question whether it was appropriate to leave the individuals, who were clearly not dressed for such freezing cold and icy conditions, at the side of the road”.

“There seems to be no consideration of whether they were at risk of hypothermia when left at the bus shelter.”

Under questioning Prof Deakin added: “I don’t personally think it fulfils an appropriate duty of care to leave Shannon in the state she was in with very little clothing on, on such a cold night if it wasn’t known when she was going to be collected

“And I would say the same applies to the police, so the police and Ambulance Service needed to liaise so they both have a clear understanding of what the plans were in terms of keeping Shannon safe.”

Coroner McCrisken is due to deliver his findings next week.