THE son of My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding star Paddy Doherty has been jailed for a horror crash which caused the death of a close friend and seriously injured four others.
David Michael Doherty, 27, was sent to prison for three years and 10 months yesterday and banned from driving for four years after Mold Crown Court heard how he “wickedly” fled the scene.
Victim James Loveridge, 38, of Elton, Chester, a father-of-four, who was the front seat passenger in his own Mitsubishi Shogun being driven by Doherty, was declared dead at the scene.
Three others in the back seat were seriously hurt.
Doherty crashed into a Renault van parked in a lay-by off the A55 which left an innocent man with life-changing injuries.
Victor McClelland, who had just flown back into the country, had parked up in the lay-by because he was tired and went to sleep in the back.
The next thing he recalled was waking up in hospital two weeks later and he is still being treated for multiple injuries at a specialist hospital in Stoke on Trent.
Prosecutor Andrew Green told how Doherty drove into the back of it, spinning it around, and Mr McClelland was thrown out of the vehicle and landed on the dual-carriageway – where he was probably run over by another vehicle as the driver tried to avoid the crash debris.
A witness heard Doherty say “I was asleep and woke up to this.”
Attempts were made to detain him but Doherty ran off, stole a Land Rover Discovery, and drove back to Deeside where he lived with his family at the Riverside Travellers’ Park, Queensferry.
When later arrested he denied being behind the wheel – but changed his plea when his DNA was found in his blood and saliva on the air bag of the crashed Shogun, proving conclusively that he was the driver. His DNA was also found in the stolen Land Rover, parked close to the Deeside caravan park, despite his initial claim that his brother had picked him up and he had left after a bump to the head not realising the seriousness of what had happened.
Mr McClelland had a fractured skull, bleeding into the brain, a fractured cheek bone and shoulder, bruised chest, lung damage, his pelvis was shattered and he had three fractures to his neck. In a victim impact statement he told how it had been totally life-changing.
Doherty’s passengers Thomas Ward, Paul Hulse and Mark Evans were also hurt. Mr Ward had a broken neck, spine damage and would have to spend up to six months in a “halo” frame. Mr Hulse had a fractured neck and collar bone and other injuries to his knee and hand. Mr Evans had a laceration to his face.
Doherty – who denies he was over the limit and says he probably mistook the lay-by for a nearby slip road – admitted causing death by careless driving at 4am on the Westbound carriageway of the A55 at Talybont, Gwynedd, on March 18. He also admitted driving while disqualified, without insurance, failing to stop and failing to report the accident.
He went on to admit driving the Land Rover without consent and without insurance together with a separate incident of dangerous driving in Manchester in May of last year when he fled at speed from police, together with other motoring offences.
An earlier charge of causing death by dangerous driving was dropped.
Judge Niclas Parry said as a result of Doherty’s irresponsible driving, a young man was killed, an entirely innocent man suffered life-threatening injuries, and three of his other passengers were seriously hurt. Doherty drove into a lay-by clearly marked by a parking sign and collided with a parked vehicle – with tragic consequences.
“What followed can only be described as an act of sheer wickedness in what I consider to be an entirely separate act of criminality,” he said.
“Knowing what you had done, knowing your passenger was dead or dying, or at the very least seriously injured, you left without any regard for anyone else. You did not stay to call for assistance but you fled the scene. You stole another vehicle, for the second time that morning and drove while disqualified and without insurance in order to avoid detection. It also meant it was not possible for you to be tested for alcohol.”
It was all at a time when he was on bail for an earlier dangerous driving case in Manchester, and the case was seriously aggravated by his previous convictions for dangerous driving, careless driving, no insurance and drink driving. The judge stressed no sentence was intended to reflect the value of the life lost – a loving partner and devoted father.
Christopher Harding, defending, said his client was full of remorse for what he had done.
The group had been in Chester the previous night, were making their way to Anglesey, he drove because the designated driver had been arrested for a public order offence, and he had not been drinking. His passengers wanted to urinate, he intended to pull off at the next exit, and his only explanation was that he mistook the lay-by for the slip road of the next exit.
He would have to live with the fact he had been responsible for the death of his very close friend for the rest of his life. He had been unable to attend the funeral and pay his respects because he was in custody but would ensure his friends’ children were cared for on his release.
The experience had changed his attitude to life and he was determined to put his previous motoring offences behind him.