Police crash driver ‘in an impossible position’

The Renault Clio which was involved in a road accident with an unmarked silver PSNI Mitsubishi, claiming the lives of Sister Frances Forde and Sister Marie Duddy near Newry in September 2014
The Renault Clio which was involved in a road accident with an unmarked silver PSNI Mitsubishi, claiming the lives of Sister Frances Forde and Sister Marie Duddy near Newry in September 2014

The driver of an unmarked police car which collided with a vehicle containing two elderly nuns was put in an impossible position, a coroner has said.

Sister Frances Forde and Sister Marie Duddy died when their Renault Clio was struck by a Mitsubishi Shogun on the A1 near Sheepbridge in September 2014.

At a preliminary inquest hearing in Belfast’s Laganside House, coroner Joe McCrisken said the PSNI constable could have done little to avoid the nuns’ car.

He said: “It seems to me you were placed in an unbelievably difficult position that day.

“I am not sure there’s much more you could have done.”

The nuns, from the Sister of Mercy Order in north Belfast, had been making their way to a retreat at the Dromantine College Retreat and Conference Centre. They both died at the scene.

Three male police officers travelling in a silver Mitsubishi Shogun were also treated in hospital for minor injuries.

Announcing his decision not to hold a full inquest, Mr McCrisken added: “I am not sure I could ever properly understand why Sisters Duddy and Forde attempted to make that manoeuvre.”

The coroner said he had taken into account a detailed investigation and report from the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman.

Mr McCrisken said: ““Holding an inquest would be counter-therapeutic to the officers involved and to the families and friends of the two Sisters.” Among those in court for the brief hearing were Sisters Anne Brady and Paula Carron, also from the Sister of Mercy Order, who came across the crash involving their friends and colleagues.

Afterwards the two nuns embraced the police officer who had been driving.

The coroner expressed condolences on at the sad and tragic death of “two good women”.

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