Man injured in car chase sues drivers and insurance body

A 30-year-old man who was seriously injured in a crash after a high speed car chase — in which two teenagers were killed — has brought a case for compensation before the High Court.

John Heaphy, 30, with an address at Crestfield Downs, Glanmire, Cork, and previously of Blarney Street, Cork, brought the case against the two drivers and the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland.

The drivers of two cars were convicted in 2010 for dangerous driving causing the death of two teenagers.

At Cork Circuit Criminal Court in December 2010, James Simms, 35, of no fixed address, and Philip Murphy, 48, of 58 Killala Gardens, Knocknaheeny, Cork, were sentenced for their dangerous driving on Friday, May 14, 2010, on Harbour View Road causing the deaths of CJ Dolan, 16, and Derry O’Callaghan, 19.

John Heaphy was the front seat passenger in the car driven by Simms and in which the two teenagers were fatally injured.

His case opened yesterday before Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon at the High Court sitting in Cork.

Elizabeth O’Connell, senior counsel for the plaintiff, said John Heaphy sustained multiple injuries in the crash including seven fractures to his head, as a result of which he sustained serious damage to one eye and was also left with Bell’s Palsy. “Liability is hugely an issue in the case,” Ms O’Connell said.

The plaintiff was playing football at Hollywood estate at around 11.30pm on the night of the incident when his friend, Darren Lenihan, was grabbed and forced into the boot of a Volkswagen Golf which was driven away by Philip Murphy. Mr Heaphy and others followed in a Ford Mondeo driven by Simms.

Those in the pursuing cars later managed to establish that their friend was not in the boot of the Volkswagen but this car then followed their vehicle, the Mondeo, leading ultimately to the fatal crash.

Mr Heaphy was put on trial on a charge of making a threat to cause damage to property before any of this occurred but he was acquitted on this charge in June 2011.

Lorraine O’Sullivan senior counsel represented the defence. Their case is that the plaintiff was negligent in travelling in a car that was bound to crash and that this likelihood was foreseeable. Also the defence is that the driver of the Mondeo was not insured and Mr Heaphy would have known this.

John Heaphy testified he only got into the Mondeo because his friend had been taken away. “My friend was taken, we just wanted him to be safe,” he said.

Cross-examined by Ms O’Sullivan SC, Mr Heaphy said he did not make any threat to damage property that night and he said he did not know why the lawyer was bringing it up that he was serving a jail sentence for an assault that had nothing to do with this case.

“I wanted to save my friend, that is what I wanted. I didn’t want anything else to go wrong.”

The case continues today.



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