Father protests fatal crash inquest

An inquest into the death of a man who died in a road traffic crash is set to go ahead today despite strenuous efforts by the man’s father to have it delayed because he says it was never properly investigated.

Joseph Holten, aged 27, died on March 11, 2014, after his motorcycle hit the central barrier on the South Ring Road in Cork.

His father Tony claims the crash has never been properly investigated by the gardaí, and says he has not been informed as to the status of the investigation.

The crash was investigated in 2014 and a motorist who was present was interviewed. A file was sent to the DPP which ruled that no prosecution should take place.

After submissions from Tony Holten, who is a retired engineer, the original investigation was reviewed but it came to the same conclusion as the original investigation.

Mr Holten then wrote to the Garda commissioner demanding a full reinvestigation and the case was referred back to the office of the assistant commissioner in the south region.

Mr Holten says he has never been informed as to the outcome of that referral.

He has detailed a number of points about the crash which he alleges were not addressed in the investigation, including:

  • Some of the collision site measurements were not taken.
  • The driver was not breathalysed at the scene.
  • The road was not closed and an inadequate site map was provided to the DPP.
  • The driver of the vehicle was not questioned at the scene but allowed to make an unchallenged statement a week later.
  • The motorist was not questioned during the review even though the reviewer noted a sparsity of detail in the motorist’s original statement.
  • The issue of what actually caused the collision was not properly addressed.

In his letter to the Garda commissioner, Mr Holten stated that “as both the original investigation and the review thereof have failed to establish the facts of our son’s death, I am requesting you initiate a full and proper reinvestigation into the causes of the actual fatal collision. This investigation should not be predicated upon Garda and witness innuendo, hearsay, and conjecture, but based inter alia on facts.”

Mr Holten contacted the coroner requesting the inquest be delayed but got a response this week that despite the points he had raised the inquest will go ahead this week as scheduled.

“I’m gobsmacked at the various arms of the justice system in failing to deal properly with this,” Tony Holten told the Irish Examiner.

“Through the case of my son’s death I have been in contact with the road safety body PARC, and our long-term aim to have some forum established for families who find that there has been an inadequate investigation into the death of loved ones.”

A spokesman for the gardaí said that the DPP had recommended no prosecution and Mr Holten was given the outcome of the two investigations and was supplied with all material requested.

Tony Holten was also critical of the delay in the enactment of the Coroner’s Bill which gives greater rights to the bereaved but which has been dormant since 2007. On Tuesday, the minister for justice Frances Fitzgerald announced that a new Coroner’s Bill, including provisions from the 2007 bill, is to be given priority status.

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