Man found not guilty of dangerous driving causing death of cyclist in Kerry

Man found not guilty of dangerous driving causing death of cyclist in Kerry
Sean O’Mahony pictured at Tralee Court today. Photo: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus LTD.

A 34-year-old man has been found not guilty of dangerous driving causing the death of a cyclist who had been on a Sunday outing with the Killarney cycling club.

The jury of 11 deliberated for a total of two hours and 31 minutes before reaching their unanimous verdict at the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee.

Sean O’Mahony, of Ballybeggan, Tralee, had denied the charge of dangerous driving causing the death of 36-year-old Edward Duggan of Fieries, Killarney on November 15, 2015 at Scart, Farranfore.

The jury had asked to view again dash cam evidence taken by a passing motorist which captured the late Mr Duggan among a group of four cyclists, going single file up Knockaderry Hill, around 10 minutes before the collision.

The late Mr Duggan was at the rear of the group. He was dressed in black.

The green car driven by Mr O'Mahony was seen 6km from the group and heading towards Farranfore. He had been going at moderate speed.

Judge Thomas E O’Donnell told the jury they could bring in three verdicts: guilty of dangerous driving causing death; guilty of the lesser careless driving causing death or not guilty.

The Killarney cyclists had set out at 9am from the Lidl car park in Killarney, and had gone via Fossa to Milltown, Castlemaine, Tralee, Castleisland and Farranfore, and were returning to Killarney via the N22, the trial was told.

It was an exceptionally dark, wet morning and there had been gusts of wind, and there had been a glare when the sun suddenly came out.

The deceased had been “going well” and was in the lead group as they came towards the end of their 90km Sunday run at around 11.15 am.

There is a tradition in the Killarney club of waiting for colleagues who had fallen behind.

The leaders stopped after the crest of Knockaderry Hill, after Farranfore at Scart Cross on the N22, before setting out again.

However, within seconds and just two hundred metres after setting off, the cyclist ahead of Mr Duggan, Conor Kissane, told of hearing a loud bang “like an explosion” and after gathering himself looked back to see Edward Duggan on the ground.

An off-duty garda travelling two cars behind Mr O’Mahony's vehicle told of seeing the deceased thrown 19 or 20 ft into the air.

The very light framed Giant cycle had been struck ”squarely into the back wheel“ by the Corolla, driven by Mr O’Mahony, according to the technical evidence.

One of the first to assist at the scene was a consultant in emergency medicine on his way to Mass for all those who died on the road.

Excessive speed, alcohol or being on a phone, were not factors, and the accused Mr O’Mahony was of impeccable character, the jury had been told.

Both car and bike were in good condition.

Mr O’Mahony told gardaí he was “blinded” by the sun suddenly coming out on the dark morning at the time of the collision and he did not see the cyclist.

“As I travelled up the hill, the sun came out suddenly and blinded me,” he said.

He adjusted his visor and almost at the same time he felt a collision.

“I did not see the cyclist,” Mr O’Mahony said in his statement four days after the fatal incident.

Tom Rice, prosecutor, in his closing speech, said the prosecution accepted the accused did not see the bicycle, but said "the question is should he have seen it? That’s really what this trial is about".

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