tragic death | 

Five people charged with attempted cover up of Donegal woman's death

Charlotte McHugh, also known as Charlotte Flood, was originally from Donegal but had settled in Co Down.

Emma Morgan and Adrian Aicken

Paul Higgins

Five people were today charged with trying to cover up the tragic death of a young woman killed in a car crash last June.

Appearing at Newtownards Magistrates Court by videolink from custody, 26-year-old Steven Cunningham was charged with 12 offences arising from the tragic death of Charlotte McHugh on 1 June last year.

In relation to the driving offences Cunningham, from the Belfast Road in Bangor, is charged with causing the death of 27-year-old Ms McHugh by driving dangerously on the Comber Road in Dundonald, driving while unfit through drink or drugs, two counts of driving while disqualified, driving without insurance, dangerous driving and counts of failing to stop, remain and report.

In addition Cunningham is accused of perverting the course of justice by “removing an injured person from the collision site and discarding clothing” and two drug offences of possessing class C drugs pregabalin and diazepam.

The charges arise after police received a call at 4:30am about a road traffic collision involving a black BMW on the Comber Road, Dundonald close to its junction with the Hillhead Road.

When officers arrived however, the occupants of the car were reported to have left the scene in a Suzuki car but a short time later, police received a report from the ambulance service that they had been called to an address in Ardmore Avenue in Dundonald where the victim’s body was found.

Charlotte McHugh also known as Charlotte Flood

Although they did not attend court today, two men and two women were also charged with perverting justice and assisting an offender arising from Ms McHugh’s death.

Adrian Aicken (32), from University Avenue in Belfast is accused of perverting justice by “attempting to conceal a vehicle” in addition to an allegation of driving while disqualified.

His partner 45-year-old Emma Morgan, of the same address, was charged with assisting an offender by attempting to provide an alibi, with perverting justice by secreting mobile phones in addition to two charges of assaulting and obstructing police.

Thomas Reynolds (33), from the Falls Road in west Belfast, is alleged to have perverted justice by helping Cunningham dispose of a jacket and assisting an offender by moving Miss McHugh “from the scene of the collision.”

Defence solicitor Hugh Edgar revealed that his client, 31-year-old Tanya Galway “has received serious threats” so District Judge Alan White placed a media restriction on her address.

She is also charged with assisting an offender and perverting justice in that she allegedly “failed to immediately secure medical assistance” for the victim.

Giving evidence to the court a Detective Constable said she believed she could connect each of the accused to their respective offences and as there was no objections to the PPS application for a six week adjournment, DJ White put the case back to 19 May.

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