Northern Ireland

Driver who killed pedestrian drove with dirty windscreen 'out of sheer laziness', court told

Elaine Patricia McGarrity
Elaine Patricia McGarrity

A Co Tyrone man who admitted causing the death of a pedestrian by driving a pick-up truck dangerously initially claimed the victim “ran out in front of him”, a pre-sentencing hearing has been told.

Ciaran Lee Wootton (26) from Main Street, Newtownstewart also accepted causing the death of Elaine McGarrity by driving while uninsured and after taking the Toyota Hilux without the consent of the owner.

Mrs McGarrity (54) was walking along Brownlink Link, Irvinestown at 9am on December 31 2021 when she was struck by a pick-up driven by Wootton.

Arrested at the scene, it emerged he did not have permission to drive the vehicle.

The victim, a mother of two and grandmother of four, died having sustained severe injuries.

Emergency service personnel at the scene remarked on the state of the windscreen driven by Wootton, who later insisted he had cleaned it earlier then stated there was an area through which he could see.

While he initially pleaded not guilty at Dungannon Crown Court, it was stressed this was a holding position as he fully accepted causing Mrs McGarrity’s death, however defence lawyers requested time to study CCTV footage.

When this was done, he admitted all matters.

On Monday, prosecution counsel said Wootton had driven through a small town without a clear view through his windscreen “out of sheer laziness”.

He had also claimed to have been driving at around 10mph and the victim “ran out in front of him” but forensic examination disproved both points.

The prosecution queried the content of a psychiatric report which stated Wootten shows “features of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” but there is no formal diagnosis of this.

There were also some differences provided by Wootton to the consultant psychiatrist around the established facts of the case.

Defence counsel stated: “On behalf of my client, I am specifically instructed to say he never meant this terrible accident to happen. He is genuinely sorry for what he has done. He accepts full responsibility for the consequences of his driving.”

It was conceded some accounts within Wootton’s police interviews were untrue, but the defence urged the court to treat this in the context of “a man dealing with the consequences of what he had done”.

The defence pointed to the impact the incident has had on Wootton’s mental health, which he is taking steps to address.

While accepting a custodial sentence is inevitable, the defence asked the court to take the aspect of rehabilitation into account and highlighted the impact the “considerable delay” in getting the case to court has had on Wootton.

Judge Brian Sherrard said he required some time to consider all material placed before him and adjourned sentencing until later this month.