A PETTIGO MAN who admitted causing his brother’s death by careless driving, will learn his fate this week, just over five years after the tragedy occurred.
Although spoken to shortly after the incident, then voluntarily attending again with the Garda, the defendant would not be charged for years, and only after being detained in Strabane. The case was significantly delayed until 2018 by what was described in court, as “jurisdictional issues”.
Francis McCafferty (45) of Grout Hall, Pettigo was to stand trial last month accused of causing the death of his brother Patrick – known as Pat John – on 5 January 2014.
He initially denied causing death by dangerous driving as well as while disqualified and without insurance, during the incident at Tullychurry Road, Kesh. Later at Dungannon Crown Court, he accepted the lesser charge causing death by careless driving, along with the two accompanying matters.
The victim died after sustaining severe head and neck injuries in the horrific crash.
During sentencing the victim’s three daughters sat quietly in the public gallery, directly behind the dock housing McCafferty.
Prosecution counsel said, “The consequences of losing their father are obvious. The behaviour of the defendant afterwards added to their upset and distress.”
The court heard McCafferty family members were drinking in a Kesh house, and around 2.50am Pat John and was in a Ford Focus car with Francis driving. After a short distance a row broke out, and Francis hauled Pat John from the car before driving on.
He turned, drove back, and struck Pat John as he stood in the road, propelling him into the grass verge.
This was witnessed by a relative, who noted McCafferty failed to stop at the scene.
Investigations revealed no brake marks and the vehicle had appeared to “steer as opposed to drift.” It was further ascertained Pat John was in a standing position when struck.
Police were alerted and the Ford Focus was located near McCafferty’s Pettigo home.
Garda attended with McCafferty who denied leaving the house all night, stating, “I wasn’t there. I’m telling you the truth.”
After 24 hours McCafferty voluntarily presented to Garda and accepted driving the vehicle, emphasising what occurred was accidental. He was released without charge.
When eventually interviewed by PSNI in April 2018, McCafferty made denials or gave no comment replies, although contended Pat John, “Ran straight out. I just hit him. I didn’t think anything was wrong.”
Defence counsel said, “The basis of the plea is he could have taken greater care … My client accepts capability. He expresses remorse and finds it difficult to channel or express this … as there is now a divide in the family.”
The defence accepted McCafferty has previous motoring convictions, and “Left the scene then engaged in a charade as to what happened to the vehicle.”
Judge Stephen Fowler QC decided to adjourn the case to consider all sentencing options before reaching a final decision.
He released McCafferty on continuing bail but warned that this was not to be taken as an indication of how he will sentence.
Posted: 6:55 pm February 2, 2019