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29 Sept 2022

Disqualified driver fled scene after fatal hit-and-run

Motorist Paul Dooher pleaded guilty to charges following an incident in which Jason Haughey lost his life

Letterkenny court

Letterkenny courthouse

A man who was driving a car which hit and killed a childhood friend fled the scene as he was disqualified from driving at the time.

Jason Haughey was killed when he was struck by a car at Windyhall, Letterkenny in the early hours of June 13th, 2020.

Father-of-two Paul Dooher (28) has pleaded guilty to a number of charges in connection with the incident.

Dooher, with an address at Culdoire, Gortlee, Letterkenny was charged with hit and run failing to report an occurrence of an accident, not having insurance, using a vehicle without the consent of the owner and driving without a driving license.

Family members of Mr Haughey were present at Letterkenny Circuit Court this week. .

Garda Cathriona Flynn told the court that a report was received at 4am on Monday, June 15, 2020, of a male laying on the roadway at Windyhall, Letterkenny.

The road in question is a third-class road with broken yellow lines on both margins, the court heard

Garda Flynn said there were indues to the head and legs of the man and no pulse was detected.

Particles of a blue vehicle were observed and a pink three-wheel scooter was located.

Mr Haughey’s body was taken to Letterkenny University Hospital. The 30-year-old was pronounced dead at 5am.

At 11am that morning, Gardaí received a report of a suspicious vehicle in Ballybofey. The headlight was damaged, the left section of the front bumper was broken and blood particles were located in an inner section of the lamp. The vehicle was seized and taken for examination.

The car was registered to Sylvia Darby, who was in a relationship with Dooher. She said she had an argument with Dooher and he left, driving her car, at 2.30pm. CCTV footage showed Dooher in the vehicle from the afternoon through to the early hours of the morning.

The court heard that the collision occurred outside a private residence. A milkman came on the scene and found Mr Haughey’s body.

A medical examination of Mr Haughey’s body confirmed that his injuries were consistent with being struck.

Dooher presented at Letterkenny Garda Station and was arrested for failing to remain at the scene. He told Gardaí that he panicked as he was a disqualified driver and he left the scene. Dooher told officers that he had not set out to hurt anyone.

Dooher, the court heard, had 20 previous conditions, including nine for dangerous driving.

Niamh Harley, who was Mr Haughey’s partner, said they had been in a relationship for 12 years.

“He was my first love and best friend,” Ms Harley said in a statement read out in court.

“His death has broke my heart. He would’ve done anything for me and I will never forget him.”

Mr Haughey’s sister, Chantelle Diver, said that his death had ‘affected every aspect of our lives’.

“Everything is a constant reminder that he is gone,” a statement from Ms Diver said. “I spoke to him or seen him every day. He was like a second dad to me. I always speak highly of him and he always pushed me to do better. He always put a smile on my face.

“Every day, he is missed. I can’t put into words how hard it was to lose him and organised his funeral. Jason is the real victim.”

Dooher worked as a plasterer until the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. He took to the stand to apologise to the victim’s family.

“I am very sorry to the Haughey and Diver families,” he said. “I didn’t intent to hurt anyone.

“I knew him very well. He was a childhood friend.”

Dooher said ‘panic took over’ as he knew he was disqualified and described himself as ‘heartbroken’ over Mr Haughey’s death.

“I dwell on it every day,” he said.

“I am very sorry.”

Judge John Aylmer said that it was a ‘very serious case and will require careful consideration’. He adjourned the matter to next Tuesday for sentence. Dooher was remanded in custody.

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