A 41-year-old former Co Tyrone policewoman choked back tears on Tuesday as she denied causing the death of a 49-year-old father-of-two on the outskirts of Omagh last October by dangerous and drunken driving.
Eilish MacSherry was an off-duty policewoman at the time of the fatal smash which claimed the life of Paul Mills on October 10 last year. MacSherry, who has since left the PSNI, also denied being involved in an hit and run accident at the same location earlier that same day.
However, after her ‘Not Guilty’ pleas, defence QC Frank O’Donoghue told Judge Stephen Fowler QC, that he had “no instructions to challenge the primary facts of the case”. The lawyer, added that “a marginal issue” would be the question of speed at the time of the fatal crash.
Mr O’Donoghue had earlier unsuccessfully applied to have the Omagh Crown Court arraignment in Dungannon, postponed for a second time. He told Judge Fowler that he was just recently appointed to the case and a “principal issue of concern” was MacSherry’s “state of mind” on the night of the tragic fatal accident.
However, prosecution QC Ciaran Murphy argued that MacSherry’s current mental condition was not an issue and that the arraignment could proceed, and that any medical reports in the case could be considered later.
Judge Fowler, who ordered the arraignment to proceed, allowed three weeks for the medical reports from a top psychiatrist, before the case is mentioned again and a possible trial date set.
As the first of the four charges was put to dark-haired MacSherry, from Omagh, that she had driven dangerously on the Clanabogan Road, she initially paused, taking a deep breath, before replying “Not Guilty”.
Then as the second charge, that her dangerous driving caused the death of Mr Mills, from Glenside, Killyclogher, was put to her, she faltered, chocking back tears to again plead “Not Guilty”.
Watching from the public gallery, along with family and friends, was Mr Mills’ widow, Anne, as MacSherry continued with her denials, that she had she failed to stop at the scene of an injury accident, and finally that while driving on the Clanabogan Road she was unfit through drink or drugs.
No details of the tragic events of that Saturday in October were given during the 15 minute hearing, but at the time of the fatal crash it was reported that MacSherry’s Saab Vector car and the Toyota Yaris of Mr Mills were involved in a collision on the Dromore Road on the outskirts of Omagh.
Although rushed to hospital, Mr Mills died from his injuries.