A 72-year-old man has denied a charge of impeding the prosecution of his son for dangerous driving causing death.
The man’s son was convicted in March 2015 of dangerous driving causing the death of cyclist Paudie O’Leary on July 1, 2012, at Scrahanafadda, Gneeveguilla, Co Kerry,
Daniel (Dan Joe) Fitzgerald of Knockeen, Meelin, Newmarket, Co Cork, was yesterday arraigned at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on the charge that when another person, namely Shane Fitzgerald, having committed an arrestable offence, he impeded the apprehension or prosecution of his son.
A jury was told the accused would not contact his son, who was in the UK, because he believed gardaí would be listening to the call.
Sgt Paul Ahern said the defendant refused the garda request to contact his son because he believed the gardaí would listen in. Dan Joe Fitzgerald had been asked by the sergeant to contact his son Shane to find out the location of a silver Toyota Landcruiser, as gardaí suspected the vehicle may have been involved in the fatal hit and run which killed Mr O’Leary, aged 42.
But Mr Fitzgerald Sr told Sgt Ahern, of Kanturk Garda Station, that he did not phone his son as requested by gardaí on July 12, 2012, because he believed gardaí would listen to their conversation.
Mr O’Leary, of Leam, Gneeveguilla, Co Kerry, was fatally injured when he was struck while on a training cycle at 5am at Scrahanfadda, Gneeveguiilla, by a grey Toyota Landcruiser which failed to stop.
Shane Fitzgerald of Knockeen, Knockduff, Meelin had been subsequently tried and convicted at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court on March 20, 2015, for dangerous driving causing the death of Mr O’Leary after he had been extradited from the UK to stand trial.
Barrister Siobhan Lankford BL yesterday told a jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court it was a slightly unusual case in which the State was seeking to prove the accused impeded the apprehension or prosecution of his son. She said Shane Fitzgerald left the State soon after the incident and went first to the UK and then Australia.
She said the State would allege that Shane Fitzgerald’s fare on the ferry to the UK, his subsequent application for a visa to Australia, and his subsequent air fare to Australia were all paid for on a credit card belonging to Daniel Fitzgerald.
Insp Fergal Foley said gardaí found debris near where Mr O’Leary was killed which they identified as coming from a grey Toyota Landcruiser and they were able to identify, trace and locate 408 of the 409 such Landcruisers registered in Cork, Kerry and Limerick.
The 409th Landcruiser, which they were unable to locate, was registered to Shane Fitzgerald and it proved difficult to find him in the days after the hit and run. However, he was arrested some three years later at Heathrow Airport while preparing to fly back to Australia, Insp Foley said.
Det Garda Padraig Reddington told the court he met Daniel Fitzgerald on July 5, 2012, and he told him that he thought his son was in the UK since June 30, and was not sure what vehicle the son had taken to the UK — either a Toyota Landcruiser or a black VW Passat also registered to his son.
Det Garda Reddington also met with Mr Fitzgerald’s partner and Shane Fitzgerald’s mother, Noreen O’Donovan, who told him that her son had left for the UK on July 2 or July 3.
The case continues today before Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin and the jury.
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