Carson made two written statements and two oral statements. At the scene of the collision he made a verbal statement to the Police which simply said “The other driver veered across me towards me.” This conflicts with his written statement for Police the day after the collision.
“I am the owner of a Subaru Impretza, black coloured registration mark AJZ 7200. On Tuesday 11/11 2003 at approximately 1430 hours I left Ballymena in my vehicle and headed towards Antrim. I went along the Steeple Road as I intended to collect my daughter at Antrim Primary School. I recall the weather as being a wet and being an awful day. I cannot honestly say what speed I was doing. I remember that I was not in any hurry or panic. I recall as I was approaching the McClenaghan’s crossroad (a local name of the staggered junction) a red car, possibly a Renault, pulled out from my left, crossed the Steeple Road and through the junction and continued carrying onwards to my right. I do not recall who was driving the car or how many people were in the car. I remember placing my foot on the brake to slow the car down, but I didn’t stop. I would say that the red car passed in front of me at a distance of about 20 yards. I continued on the Steeple Road towards Antrim. I remembered a grey Nova coming over the brow of the hill. This vehicle was on the Steeple Road travelling from the Antrim direction. As our two vehicles became closer I remember the Nova started to gradually cross the centre of the road and come onto my side of the road. Initially I thought that there must be something at the side of the road that this car was avoiding and that the car would pull back onto its own side of the road. I was not worried at this stage and I didn’t brake. I can only say that the next moment that it was too late and both our cars collided head on. I don’t remember if I braked before the impact but my right ankle is swollen so I might have braked heavily. Before the impact I don’t remember seeing who was driving the Nova or what physical state the person was in. After the impact I can recall just sitting there for a few moments, I didn’t go unconscious at any time. I then remember taking off my seatbelt and trying to get out of the car but I couldn’t. I think I was trapped slightly in the car. I remember a chap coming towards my car from the direction of Antrim. I don’t remember what he was driving or what he looked like. I can only say he was about 35 years old. This man helped me out of the car and put me down on the road. I lay down on the road next to the car with my head towards the rear of the car. I can remember a few more people coming on the scene. I can remember that a woman was there and her name was Sally. I can remember before I got lifted out of the car that the Police had arrived and a policeman holding my head. As I lay on the road the ambulance arrived. I remember a needle being stuck in my arm and my clothes being cut off. I was conveyed by ambulance to Antrim Area Hospital where I was x-rayed and my legs put in a cast. Later that evening I was conveyed to the Royal Victoria hospital, Belfast. As a result of the collision I have cuts to my forehead, bruises and cuts to my hands, both kneecaps broken and my right ankle is broken.”
Before I review the content of this first written statement I will explain the significance of the photograph below.
This photograph shows the first position that Carson could see any part of the road on the Antrim side of the crash site.
It will be worthwhile now to analyze the contents of Carson’s first verbal and written statement and check the contents against the known facts. I am sufficiently realistic to know that it is in the nature of some people to make a statement that would protect their own position. They might weight the evidence in their own favour, and might even fabricate it to convey a different version of events. They would lie. It would be the Investigator’s job to check the statement against the known facts, to point out any discrepancies, and take those into consideration when finally arriving at a conclusion about the cause of the collision or the consideration of prosecution. It seems clear to me that Sgt McBride did not attempt to verify the contents of these statements against the facts but seems to have accepted them as they agreed with his conclusions about the cause of the collision. If he had done so, then it would have been clear to him that Carson’s account was not consistent with the facts.
Carson says that he slowed down on his way to the junction to allow a red car coming from the Crosskeenan Road to cross in front of him. Why didn’t Sergeant McBride check with Witness 2 if this was true. If he had done so as I did, he would have found that no such car existed.
Carson states that he saw the Nova coming over the brow of the hill. This could not be so. He cannot see the brow of the hill until he passes the junction with the Crosskeenan Road. If he was travelling at 60 mph at the time he says he first saw the Nova, he was just 3.2 seconds away from the collision point. For the Nova to arrive at the collision point from the brow at the same time, he would have had to travel at over 180 mph. This was impossible.
He could not see any approaching vehicle until he had reached the junction with Crosskeenan Road,and he could not see a vehicle on the Kells bound lane until he was some 10 yards past the junction.
If the Subaru was travelling at 80 mph, as claimed by the witnesses and, as later confirmed by Conservation of Momentum calculations, then he was a mere 2.4 seconds away from the collision point the first time he could have been aware of an oncoming car on either carriageway. But during that short time he says that “As our two vehicles became closer I remember the Nova started to gradually cross the centre of the road and come onto my side of the road. Initially I thought that there must be something at the side of the road that this car was avoiding and that the car would pull back onto its own side of the road. I was not worried at this stage and I didn’t brake. I can only say that the next moment that it was too late and both our cars collided head on.”
He wasn’t worried? He was 2.4 or 3.2 seconds away from disaster and death !
It seems that this statement was plausible to Sgt McBride perhaps because he had not bothered to check the sight lines of the drivers. These assertions remained unchallenged. For me, this written statement conflicts with Carson’s verbal statement at the scene where he said that the Nova “veered across me” which is different to it coming down the wrong side of the road.
In his first statement he couldn’t “honestly say what speed I was doing”. In his second written statement he remembers that both vehicles were travelling at 50 mph. This will shortly be detailed in a later blog when the second verbal and second written statement are analysed and published.
In his first statement he makes a point of saying that he released his own seatbelt before he was removed from the car. Why was it important to include that detail in the statement? In any case, both his hands were badly cut and bruised and he had fractures to both his kneecaps and a broken ankle and he had received a blow to the head. To remove a seatbelt would have been painful in the extreme if even possible. Clearly the seatbelt didn’t work or at least didn’t stop him hitting his head on the windscreen.
These injuries are consistent with a seat belt not being used. Police Constable Cochrane who was the PSNI vehicle inspector made it clear in his Report that Carson was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash. I understand that Carson later admitted this to Alliance Insurance assessors. It is worth noting that, almost uniquely for the PSNI, Constable Cochrane presented an accurate, honest and detailed vehicle Report with integrity and professionalism.
In his first written statement, Carson makes no mention of phoning his wife post crash. In his subsequent verbal interview with Sgt McBride, he cannot remember if he phoned his wife and he says nothing about phoning her post collision. In his second written statement a few days later, he remembers that he called his wife at work after he was removed from the car. The circumstances surrounding the call to his wife and the use of his mobile at the time of the collision will be dealt with in a later post. When you read it you will probably not believe what the Police did to support his story.
It must have been a great relief to both Carson and McBride that they arrived at the same conclusion as to the cause of my brother’s death even though they both included so many falsehoods in their respective Reports.It is quite uncanny to me.
I try to keep these posts to a manageable size. I have therefore decided to leave Carson’s second verbal and written statements till after the next post.
I think it might be important that you know something about the terminology which will begin to creep into the narrative over the next few posts. Therefore, in the next post I will explain as best I can what is meant by DRIFTING, UNI- DIRECTIONAL TYRES, TREAD PATTERNS, AQUAPLANING and a few other weird words. I may even throw in the word TRACTOR.! To those who do not find these words strange I apologise. You can skip to the next post. For the rest of us I will try to keep it informative.