Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Lesley-Ann McCarragher hit-and-run driver jailed for 9 years

A 19 year old man has been handed a 9 year jail sentence for causing the death of an Armagh teenager during a hit-and-run incident two years ago. 

Lesley-Ann McCarragher was fatally injured after being hit by a car while out jogging close to her family home on the Monaghan Road in Armagh in April 2016.  The 19 year old student was airlifted to hospital where she died from her injuries. 

Nathan Finn, who was 17 at the time, was speeding along the Monaghan Road, without a licence or insurance, when the tragedy occurred. Witnesses described a white Saab racing another car along the road before undertaking on the hard shoulder, where it ploughed into Lesley-Ann. The Saab then turned and drove away from the scene.

Having initially denied all charges against him, Finn, of Keady Road in Armagh, later accepted causing death by dangerous driving and causing death whilst driving without a licence or insurance. He also admitted failing to stop and remain at the scene of a collision, or report it to police. His defence lawyer told the court that Finn “panicked” after what happened. The judge was told Finn had shown remorse, and had suffered mental health problems in the wake of the collision.

The 30 year old driver of another car was also prosecuted.  Damien Paul McCann, of Lagan Road, Keady, was originally charged with causing Miss McCarragher’s death by dangerous driving.  He denied the charges and later pleaded guilty to dangerous driving.  Mr McCann’s defence lawyer expressed condolences to the family of the victim and told the court that there was no direct link between him and the death of the teenager. However, he admitted being involved in dangerous driving shortly before the crash.  He was banned from driving for two years and fined £500.

In a statement issued after the sentencing on Thursday last, Lesley-Ann’s family said “a light has gone out in all of our lives.” 

“Finn chose to get behind the wheel of a car he had only taken possession of the previous day,” the statement added.

“He chose to drive it dangerously, without a licence or insurance, on a public road at high speed.

“He chose to become involved in a race through the streets of Armagh with McCann. He chose to mount the hard shoulder to undertake the car.

“He struck Lesley-Ann, throwing her into the middle of the road, and chose to leave her to die. He chose to flee the scene, without even a flicker of care or compassion.”

The family said “It is of huge regret both Finn and McCann demonstrated absolutely no remorse for their actions.

“As a family we have never sought retribution but the sentence for Finn had to be proportionate, appropriate and a deterrent for others drivers.

The statement also added that “whilst the courts could not establish a link in law between Finn And McCann’s actions, as a family we find it difficult to understand how the dangerous driving to which McCann pleaded guilty did not in some way contribute.

“If anything comes from this tragedy, we appeal to drivers to ensure no-one has their life cut short like our beautiful Lesley-Ann, and no-one suffers as we have as a family.”