Bus driver acquitted of careless driving causing death of motorcyclist

By Isabel Hayes

A Dublin bus driver has been acquitted of careless driving causing the death of a Brazilian motorcyclist in 2015.

Barry Kennedy (51) of Ravenswood Rise, Castaheany, Clonee, Dublin, stood trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court charged with driving a Dublin Bus without due care and attention, causing the death of 25-year-old Lucas Lapa Sanchez at Constitution Hill, Phibsborough, Dublin, on October 21, 2015.

He had pleaded not guilty.

The jury returned the unanimous verdict today after one hour and 20 minutes of deliberations. Judge Pauline Codd thanked them for their hard work and excused them from jury service for five years.

She also extended her condolences to Mr Sanchez's family in Brazil through a family friend who was present for the trial.

The three-day trial heard Mr Kennedy was driving the so-called “ghost bus” - a bus that is used to give other drivers a lift home in the early hours of the morning. There were no passengers that night and he returned to Broadstone Depot around 1am towards the end of his shift.

When he turned right into the Broadstone Depot on Constitution Hill in Phibsborough, the bus collided with Mr Sanchez's motorcycle.

Mr Sanchez, who worked as a delivery driver for an Indian takeaway, was trapped underneath and died a week later from his injuries.

Prosecuting counsel, Antonia Boyle BL, said the accused failed to exercise sufficient care when turning and so caused the death of Mr Sanchez. The prosecution argued Mr Kennedy was looking out his right-hand window when he carried out the turn and did not exercise due care and attention.

The court was shown CCTV footage of the incident, along with several stills. It was a wet and windy night, although not raining at the time of impact, the court heard.

The trial heard Mr Kennedy, who has been employed by Dublin Bus for 16 years, was travelling at around 21km/h when the collision occurred. Mr Sanchez was travelling at around 61km/h at the time of impact. The speed limit on the road in question is 50km/h.

The trial also heard Mr Sanchez was found to have a Brazilian driving licence on him, which is not valid in Ireland. It was unclear if he was insured. He was wearing a dark jacket, with no high visibility vest or tabard.

Conor Devally SC, defending, told the jury that Mr Kennedy had never previously been involved in a road traffic incident either personally or professionally.

Mr Sanchez had started work around 6pm that evening and finished up around 1am. He was on his way home from work when the collision occurred.

Dublin Bus driver, Keith McGann, who was at the depot that night, told the trial the turn into the Broadstone Depot had a dip in the road which meant drivers often had to raise the bus floor to avoid colliding with it. He said a similar accident had occurred the year before.

The turn is now “completely different”, Mr McGann said, with more lights and signs. The road has also been raised. The trial heard it was unclear if this was as a result of the accident or because of extensive Luas works in the area.

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