An inquest in Torquay into the death of 16-month-old Oisín Twomey came to an abrupt halt after legal wrangling yesterday.
The police barrister and Torbay coroner Ian Arrow disagreed over whether the 10-man jury should be asked a question by Oisín’s mother, Elber Twomey, about whether the authorities could learn lessons from the incident where suicidal taxi driver Marek Wojciechowski deliberately drove head-on into the Meelin, Co Cork, family’s car last July.
She also wants to make a statement about how she has been affected by the tragedy, where Oisín and her unborn baby daughter, Elber Marie, died, and her husband Con, aged 39, was catastrophically injured leading to his death at Cork University Hospital in May of this year.
Mrs Twomey was 24 weeks pregnant at the time.
The 26-year-old Polish taxi driver died from multiple injuries on the day of the crash.
In a written ruling, Mr Arrow said it was clear that at least one of the families had concerns about the conduct of the police officer in the incident, and that it was a matter of human rights that there was public scrutiny, openness and transparency.
Police barrister Patricia Whitelaw then asked for an adjournment for an official review. This was refused.
She then asked for an adjournment for a legal challenge.
In cross-examination, Ms Twomey’s barrister, Chris Hough told her: “Mrs Twomey is very concerned that no family ever has to go through what she has been through again and she is concerned that there is nothing in your report that indicates that any lessons can be learnt.”
She replied: “With policies and procedures, we cannot expect any force to cover all scenarios. That would be impossible.”
Before the legal submissions, the inquest heard that Mr Wojciechowski had left a four-page suicide note that morning for his wife Agnieszka Wojciechowska.
A hysterical Mrs Wojciechowska rang friends who in turn alerted police and he was reported as a high-risk missing person and details of his black taxi were circulated.
Shortly afterwards, Pc Ben Bickford was driving up Hamelin Way and saw a dark car on the opposite dual carriageway heading downhill.
On a hunch, he told the jury, Pc Bickford turned on his blue lights and siren and headed off at speed to catch up with the car to see if it was the missing person.
When he got close enough to establish that his hunch was right, Pc Bickford flashed his headlights four times and made hand signals indicating that he wanted Mr Wojciechowski to pull over.
Seconds later, the inquest heard, the Vectra deliberately slammed his car across the road and into the Twomey family’s Volkwagen Polo and Mr Twomey had nowhere to go to avoid the impact.
The Twomey family were on the last day of their South Devon holiday when the crash happened last year on Jul 6.
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