A conviction was imposed against David Hughes, Macnadilla, Croghan, Carrick-on-Shannon at last week’s sitting of Carrick-on-Shannon District Court with Judge Kevin P Kilrane noting: “it is marginal dangerous driving but just about, I am prepared to reduce to careless driving.”
At the outset of the case defending solicitor Peter Collins said: “All the statements will be accepted in full. My client says he doesn’t know how the accident happened. He accepts the accident was his fault; he feels his driving was careless.”
Sgt Michael Gallagher said the State wished to proceed with the charge of dangerous driving based on the photographs taken at the scene.
Sgt Gallagher read statements from various witnesses beginning with the driver of the car that was struck, Bernadette Duffy.
She recalled on June 13, 2018 she was travelling to Carrick-on-Shannon to watch Monaghan play Leitrim when the accident occurred about two miles past Ballinamore. The accident occurred in the townland of Killaneen.
She observed a camper van coming towards her adding; “All I remember was the car coming at us. It was on top of us before we knew it.”
Her sister, Ailish Duffy was a passenger in the car and in her statement she said: “The airbags came out. I ran from the car; I was afraid to see Bernadette in case she was dead.”
A statement given by the motorist who was travelling behind the defendant, Adrian Moran was then read by Sgt Gallagher in which he stated: “I was behind a silver Passat that attempted to overtake a campervan. Afterwards he veered out again and made contact with an oncoming car. The driver of the silver Passat was completely in the wrong.”
Addressing the court on behalf of the defendant Mr Collins said he was going to overtake at the football pitch but saw an oncoming car and said he would wait as it wasn’t safe.
“He drifted across the white line rather than attempted to overtake. The two cars were coming around a corner and collided at a fair old pace.”
The defendant, David Hughes, addressed the court to say on the day in question he was going to Ballinamore to visit a friend.
He said he had a look on the long stretch as he passed the football pitch but saw oncoming traffic and decided to stay behind the campervan until he reached Ballinamore.
Mr Hughes added: “I don’t recall the accident, I just remember the airbag going off in my face. I’m not disputing I veered over, of course I did but I wasn’t trying to overtake.”
When asked if he accepted he made a mistake, Mr Hughes replied: “totally.”
When asked by Sgt Gallagher how there could be such a lapse in concentration having earlier said he had been following the ‘two second rule’ to having an airbag in his face, Mr Hughes replied: “Maybe I got closer, I don’t know. I know the road and as Mr Moran said it would be suicidal to try and overtake.”
Mr Hughes continued: “I don’t know why I veered out on either occasion.”
Having heard the evidence against Mr Hughes, Judge Kilrane said: “It happened on a particularly tortuous stretch of road. The road is quite narrow, I would estimate 20-22ft wide. The camper van is probably in the region of 8ft wide. The driver behind would have absolutely no vision if he was driving reasonably close.”
Outlining what may have happened, Judge Kilrane suggested: “He was so frustrated he decided to overtake and moved out to do so. We all know a camper is so bulky it is like a small house.
“If that was the case it would be a case of dangerous driving.”
Judge Kilrane added: “Do I have a doubt in relation to what he says?
“Mr Moran says at the scene he (defendant) pulled out on the roadway. The defendant says it was not an intentional move to overtake the campervan, so which is it?
“If anyone were foolish enough to overtake you would imagine there would be an indicator and the car would pull back to get a view of oncoming traffic. There was no mention of an indicator and no suggestion he engaged any form of lower gear to make a burst.
“There is enough of a doubt to suggest what he says is correct, that he veered out but even that is bordering on dangerous driving. Usually the test is did he do something deliberately that is dangerous.
“It is marginal dangerous driving but just about, I’m prepared to reduce to careless driving.”
The court heard the defendant, who is 43-years -old, has no previous convictions with Mr Collins adding: “his licence is very important to him to get him to and from work.”
Judge Kilrane imposed a conviction for careless driving and fined Mr Hughes €500.
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