by Caoimhe Hegarty

A 92-year-old Magherafelt man has just marked his 76th year accident and conviction free.

Patrick Deehan is widely considered to be an expert when it comes to driving and road safety.

Today, Patrick has five instructor qualifications under his belt including the Metropolitan Police Advanced Driving Instructor’s course. He was also the Supervising Advanced Driving Examiner for Northern Ireland for many years.

Patrick, who is known to many as Pat, started out his career as a bus conductor but no one was to know that this role would set the foundations for the UK’s first Ulsterbus accident investigation unit, which he helped establish.

At that time, it was decided that in order to strengthen Ulsterbus’ positon, it would be necessary for Patrick to gain an accident investigation qualification. This is when, Patrick first came into contact with Tom Ravensdale in London and Sir Thomas Lund (C.B.E), former president of the British Academy of Forensic Science (BAFS). Both men, would play a significant role in Mr Deehan’s successful career.

After completing a short investigation course under Mr Ravensdale’s guidance, Patrick was advised by Sir Thomas Lund to travel to Chicago to attend the Traffic Institute North Western Chicago University, as this course was only available for police investigations in the United Kingdom.

On completion of his studies there, Patrick was on a par with British Police Investigators.

When it comes to safe-driving, Patrick’s knowledge and experience is unparalleled.  He has investigated hundreds of accidents and attended as an expert witness in courts throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic as well as across England, Scotland and Wales.

Down through the years, his expertise has been widely recognised. Among many high-ranking positions and accolades, Patrick was also nominated for full membership of the prestigious British Academy of Forensic Science by Sir Thomas Lund.

Patrick’s motto has long been ‘practice what you preach’. It is therefore no surprise that he was the first driving instructor in Northern Ireland to become a qualified driving instructor.

He set up the South Derry School of Motoring back in 1958. For over 55 years, Patrick guided thousands of learner drivers successfully through their driving tests.

Patrick may be a familiar face to many across Mid Ulster, but what people may not know is that Patrick was among many experienced and knowledgeable associates who were invited to contribute to a book on investigations into vehicle collision.

Under the suggestion of Sir Thomas Lund, the original draft of the book ‘Accident Investigation’ by Tom Ravensdale, was completed in 1982.  Patrick submitted many reports and case studies to the author for publication.

When Sir Thomas died in in 1985, the author decided, as a tribute to Sir Thomas, to continue with the book.  However, following Tom’s unexpected death in 1988, Patrick was given a copy of the book but it remains a mystery if the book was ever published.

Speaking about the book, Mr Deehan said: “In 1985, Sir Thomas died. Tom Ravensdale decided at that time to continue with the book as a tribute to Sir Thomas, as he had been the one who suggested it. In 1988, I decided to make contact with Tom to enquire about the book’s progress. I was shocked when Tom’s wife told me that he too had died. I travelled to London to offer my condolences. During the visit, Tom’s wife gave me a copy of the book with a publication date of 1987.  With Tom’s death in 1988, I doubt if this book was ever in circulation.  It is very regretful that neither Sir Thomas nor Tom ever saw the fruits of their endeavour,” he said. He added: “The book, which has over 250 pages, is a comprehensive detail of each type of vehicle and accident formula. Over the years Sir Thomas and Tom both passed down to me invaluable advice and guidance.  This book is a fitting tribute to two inspirational men. I am not sure if the book was ever published so I am really proud to have this copy in my possession.”

The book can be viewed at Patrick’s address, 21 Derramore Park, Magherafelt.

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