A BRAZILIAN tourist charged over a fatal road accident in north Antrim can return to her native country, a High Court judge has ruled.
Isabella Terror (27) was granted permission to leave Northern Ireland on a charge of causing the death of father-of-three Francis Watson by careless driving on February 6.
Mr Watson died following the two-vehicle collision on the Drones Road between Cloughmills and Armoy.
It emerged on Monday that Terror had been on a trip with her boyfriend to see the nearby Dark Hedges, made famous by TV fantasy drama Game of Thrones, at the time of the crash.
She was allegedly driving a car which may have crossed over a central line in the road by up to a foot, the court heard.
Mr Watson’s vehicle veered off and struck a post. The 41-year-old construction worker was pronounced dead at the scene, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
Terror, with an address at Upper Knockbreda Road in Belfast, maintains that she kept to her side of the road.
She secured bail last month, but returned to court on Monday seeking to vary the terms so she can go back to South America to complete her studies.
Lord Justice Treacy was told the accused has a degree in law and is also due to continue further courses in medicine in association with the Brazilian navy and military.
A defence barrister submitted: “She is an incredibly fastidious and studious young woman.”
The barrister argued that Terror will lose out on courses for which she is enrolled unless she is back in class by March 18.
Acknowledging the tragic circumstances of the case, he offered condolences to Mr Watson’s family on behalf of his client.
But he stressed that the alleged careless driving centred on a “minimal encroachment” with low culpability.
Terror had first travelled to the Republic of Ireland to see her boyfriend, who was studying medicine in Dublin, the court heard.
The couple then went sightseeing in Northern Ireland, including a visit to the Dark Hedges.
Opposing her bid to vary bail terms, prosecution counsel Philip Henry highlighted the absence of any extradition arrangements with Brazil.
The court heard, however, that Terror’s parents were prepared to lodge a £10,000 cash surety and the deeds to their family home.
Her mother, a university professor, and father, an IT manager and Baptist pastor, were both present in the public gallery.
The defence lawyer revealed they have been staying at a Holiday Inn hotel, and are not prepared to leave Northern Ireland without their daughter.
“She is just a young woman involved in a fatal road traffic accident and finding the whole situation extremely traumatic,” the barrister said.
During the hearing Terror herself pledged to come back for any future trial.
Asked by the judge, she offered to swear on the Bible that she would return.
Granting the application, Lord Justice Treacy described her as an “exceptional student” whose parents were prepared to vouch for her bona fides.
He ruled that Terror’s passport can be returned once the cash and property deeds are lodged, and warned that any failure to honour her promise would render her a fugitive from justice.
The judge added: “She would be betraying her Brazilian brothers and sisters in similar circumstances if she were to adopt that course.”