A Limerick man who was jailed for dangerous driving causing the death of a 19-year-old woman claimed yesterday he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice.
Gearoid Cleary, aged 32, told the High Court, sitting in Limerick, that he was wrongly found guilty by the jury at his trial and that the Court of Appeal was also wrong not to overturn the conviction.
Mr Cleary, of Ballinacurra Gardens, is suing the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) for damages due to injuries he suffered in the fatal crash and ongoing psychological problems.
Mr Cleary said he works 20 hours a week as a casino cashier and is also in receipt of disability benefit.
He claims the incident would not have happened if he was not “violently rammed” from behind by the uninsured driver of a high-powered BMW who then fled the scene.
A jury found Mr Cleary guilty of dangerous driving causing the death of Emma Woodland on Mulgrave St, Limerick, on September 9, 2006.
During the criminal trial, it was the State’s case that although Latvian national Roman Andreas pleaded guilty to dangerously driving the BMW and causing the death of Ms Woodland, this did not exonerate Mr Cleary, who, they claimed, was also driving too fast on the night of the fatal incident.
Shortly before midnight on September 9, 2006, Mr Cleary’s Honda Integra was propelled into a Toyota Starlet carrying Ms Woodland, driving it into a wall some 12m after impact.
The Starlet was crossing the main road ahead of Mr Cleary, who claimed it would have crossed safely had he not been rear-ended by Roman Andreas.
Ms Woodland, who was a back-seat passenger in the Starlet, died from head injuries she received in the collision.
Andreas fled the scene but was later identified and pleaded guilty to causing the death of Ms Woodland.
He was twice the legal alcohol limit and was jailed for three years, but later absconded to Eastern Europe.
Mr Cleary was sentenced to four years in prison. Both men were banned from driving for 10 years.
Mr Cleary is claiming in his High Court action before Mr Justice Brian Cregan that he was not the cause of the incident and should be compensated for the back injuries he suffered in the crash and for the ongoing “depression, shock, and upset he has suffered to this day because of the loss of the life he has been blamed for”.
Michael Gleeson, counsel for the MIBI, said “racing” was a factor in the cause of the fatal collision.
Cross-examined by Mr Gleeson yesterday, Mr Cleary said he was wrongly convicted and that the jury at his trial had gotten it wrong.
Asked by Mr Gleeson if it was his case that the jury got it wrong, that the Court of Criminal Appeal got it wrong in upholding his conviction, Mr Cleary said this was his belief.
“So all the legal structures within this country were not to your satisfaction?” said Mr Gleeson.
Mr Cleary said the incident would not have happened if he had not been rear-ended.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved