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Pettigo man charged with causing brother's death

Anton McCabe

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Anton McCabe

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editorial@donegaldemocrat.com

Pettigo man charged with causing brother's death

A Pettigo man has been charged with killing his brother by dangerous driving on January 4th 2004. Francis McCafferty appeared before a special hearing of Omagh Magistrates Court on Saturday, charged in relation to the death of his brother Patrick John McCafferty. He was also charged with driving with no licence or insurance in Strabane on Wednesday March 28th.

The court heard that human flesh and hair was found embedded in the windscreen of Francis McCafferty's car. However, he denied making certain admissions as “the Donegal Guards are all corrupt.”

A police witness told the court that, on January 4th 2014, Francis McCafferty had driven his brother Patrick John McCafferty to his brother's home at Tullychurry Road, Belleek.


“At Tullychurry, the deceased refused to leave the car,” the police officer said. “The defendant had an altercation with his brother Patrick John in connection with him getting out of the vehicle. This continued outside the vehicle.”

Another man intervened, and Francis McCafferty got back into the car. He drove up the road, and turned the car. At this stage, his partner asked to get out. “It was stated the vehicle was being driven hard down the Tullychurry Road,” the police officer said. “A witness said that it doesn't stop, it doesn't slow on a sharp corner, and it strikes the deceased in the middle of the road.” Francis McCafferty drove off. Patrick John McCafferty died at the scene.


The following morning, January 5th 2017, Gardaí called to Francis McCafferty's home outside Pettigo. They seized his car. A technical examination showed the front windscreen was broken; the roof above the windscreen was damaged; possible human flesh and hair was embedded in the windscreen; the windscreen wiper on the driver's side was damaged; and the wing-mirror on the same side was damaged. That afternoon, a PSNI officer requested that Francis McCafferty be arrested for the murder of his brother.

During two days of interviews, Francis McCafferty denied driving the vehicle, and was released.


On January 7th, Francis McCafferty voluntarily attended Ballyshannon Garda station. He admitted driving the car. “He states that it was an accident,” the police officer said. “He was driving down the road and his brother Patrick John stepped out in the road.” He was worried his brother and another man would assault him, and drove on. He was released unconditionally.


A further technical examination found glass in Patrick John McCafferty's body matching glass from the car windscreen. A forensic report found the car was travelling at 30 to 40 miles per hour. “From the conclusions, the driver would have had the change to take evasive action,” the police officer said. The deceased's body was found 135 feet from the point of impact.


Police stopped Francis McCafferty driving in Strabane on Wednesday 28th March this year and found he had no licence or insurance. During interviews at Omagh police station, he said he had gone to the family home on January 3rd 2014, and Patrick John McCafferty was brandishing a knife. “He felt the reason Patrick John had the knife was to assault him,” the police officer said. He drove Patrick John McCafferty to his brother's home at Tullychurry, and returned home without incident. Witnesses who claimed to see him driving were too old, too young, alcoholics or drug-dependent. “He repeatedly said the Donegal Guards were corrupt, and he hadn't signed the statement (on January 7th ),” the police officer said.


Defence solicitor Michael Fahy objected to the charge of causing death by dangerous driving. He pointed to the absence of any attempt to take out a European Arrest Warrant. The only evidence the PSNI was seeking Francis McCafferty was a two-line letter sent to Pettigo Post Office, asking him to attend in the North. Francis McCafferty has denied receiving this.

The police officer said police had begun the process of applying for a European Arrest Warrant in February 2016.

Judge Nigel Broderick said he was satisfied there was sufficient evidence to connect Francis McCafferty to the charge of causing death by dangerous driving. Police objected to bail.

Fahy pointed out that Francis McCafferty had 13 convictions in Northern Ireland. “The offences show a propensity to attend court in Northern Ireland,” Fahy said.


Judge Broderick granted bail, subject to conditions. \\the defendant, was remanded in custody to Enniskillen Magistrates Court on March 10th, pending perfection of his bail.