Northern Ireland

Death driver 'medically unfit' for appeal bid

A man jailed for killing his friend in a drunken car crash was medically unfit to proceed with a court bid to clear his name on Thursday.

William Moore's appeal hearing was adjourned after his lawyer expressed fears of irrational behaviour due to his condition on arrival from prison.

Moore, 29, from Thorndale Avenue, Belfast, was sentenced to ten and a half years for causing the death of Darren Brown by dangerous driving.

The incident happened on 25 April 2009.

His trial heard how Moore was drink-driving when he clipped one car before overtaking the vehicle and losing control as he tried to veer back onto his own side of the road.

Denied

He careered down an embankment before smashing into a tree.

Mr Brown, who was a back seat passenger, died at the scene.

Moore was badly injured but managed to crawl from the passenger side of the car.

He denied being behind the wheel at the time of when the crash and claimed that the owner of the car had admitted being the driver.

However, forensic examination of the vehicle and of Moore's injuries established at trial that he was the driver.

He was sentenced in June 2011 to serve at least five years and three months in prison after which he will be released on supervised parole for more than five years.

Moore was taken from prison to the Court of Appeal on Thursday for a hearing to challenge his conviction.

'Outbursts'

But a defence barrister told three senior judges of his concerns for his client's condition, adding that his fears were backed by prison staff who escorted him from Magilligan Jail.

Eugene Grant QC said: "They reflected their view that the applicant, from a medical perspective, was clearly not aware of what was going on around him and not in a position, they felt, to potentially behave in a rational fashion."

It was not certain that Moore would be able to understand what was happening or to conduct himself appropriately, the court was told.

No details were disclosed on any potential reasons for his condition.

"In this circumstances, based on two matters - the potential for an irrational reaction or indeed outbursts and, secondly, the clear potential that the applicant is not capable of following proceedings, I have to make an application that the matter be adjourned until such times as he receives appropriate medical examination and is clearly fit to follow proceedings," said Mr Grant.

Lord Justice Higgins, sitting with Lord Justices Girvan and Coghlin, agreed to adjourn the hearing.