Helicopter called in to search for Cookstown man after two-vehicle crash

Magherafelt Courthouse.
Magherafelt Courthouse.

A helicopher was deployed to search fields for a man who went missing after a two-vehicle accident on the outskirts of Magherafelt, the local Magistrates Court was told.

Before the court was 19-year-old McCauley Moffett, of Ruskey Road, Cookstown, who was fined a total of £500 and lost his licence for two years.

The apprentice roofer admitted charges including dangerous driving, driving with excess alcohol, aggravated taking and causing damage to vehicle, failing to remain and failing to report an injury accident.

Imposing the penalties, District Judge Alan White said it was a serious set of motoring offences.

“It was fortunate you did not cause death or serious injury to the other driver,” he told the defendant.

The court heard the charges arose out of a head-on collision involving a van being driven by Moffett and a BMW car on the Ballyronan Road near Magherafelt at 9.20pm on March 15 this year.

A prosecuting lawyer told the court that the accident happened on the wrong side of the road and the driver of the car was taken to Antrim Hospital for treatment.

When police approached the van, they detected a strong smell of intoxicating liquor coming from inside the vehicle but could not locate the driver.

She said the defendant had left the scene on foot and a helicopher was then deployed by police to look for him.

Continuing, she said he was found 100 metres away when he emerged staggering and bleeding from a field.

She said defendant was arrested and told police that “Da” had not given him permission to drive the van and he had no recollection of the collision.

The lawyer said a sample of blood was obtained which showed an alcoholic count of 114mls, 34 above the limit some six hours later.

A defence lawyer said Moffett had taken several bottles of cider earlier in the day and mistakenly decided to go for a pizza. He stressed the defendant felt okay to drive.

He said defendant had sustained a fractured sternum and other injuries and spent a few nights in hospital.

The lawyer said Moffett could not recall the circumstances of the accident and only remembered waking up in hospital.

The judge expressed the hope the defendant could get on with his life and that this incident was an aberration.