Millionaire property developer who crashed Ferrari in drink-drive incident loses appeal

Christopher Walsh Holywood Ferrari crash. Pic Pacemaker
The 150k Ferrari hit two parked cars. Credit: Pacemaker

A millionaire property developer who crashed his Ferrari in a drink-driving incident has failed in a new bid to overturn his conviction. The Court of Appeal ruled on Thursday that 59-year-old Christopher Walsh’s attempt to have the case re-examined was “frivolous” and “hopelessly out of time”. Walsh, from Mount Pleasant in Belfast, was found guilty of driving with excess alcohol, careless driving and failing to stop or remain at the scene of an accident. Previous courts heard he crashed his £150,000 sports car into two other vehicles parked on the Belfast Road in Holywood, Co Down back in September 2015. Walsh claimed he had been on his way to a barbeque with a bottle of vodka which he only drank after the collision.

Christopher Walsh.

The so-called ‘hip-flask’ defence was rejected by a magistrate who imposed a five-year driving ban and £250 fine in 2017. Walsh, who reportedly at one time held a property portfolio worth an estimated £100m, lost a first appeal to the County Court where his version of events was rejected. He mounted a further challenge after the judge refused to state the case for consideration by the Court of Appeal in November last year. Now representing himself, Walsh had drawn up a series of questions which he argued all required further judicial scrutiny.

A central complaint related to the prosecution being able to use notes he had prepared with previous legal representatives for cross-examination purposes. In denying his application to state a case, the County Court judge had described the questions raised as frivolous and unreasonable. No sensitivity was identified around the notes which featured during the course of a public trial. Backing that determination, Lord Justice Treacy pointed out there had been an agreement they could be deployed by both sides at the earlier appeal. “Not only did the applicant’s counsel not object, the applicant himself did not protest when he was on the receiving end of their use,” he said. Lord Justice Treacy, sitting with Lord Justice Horner and Mr Justice Kinney, further held that Walsh should have taken the further legal steps months sooner. “The trial judge was well placed to conclude that the questions were frivolous,” he confirmed. “The applicant is hopelessly out of time and we do not accept there is any good reason established to extend time to pursue this application. Accordingly the application is dismissed.”

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