No verdict in careless driving trial

The jury in the trial of a motorist accused of careless driving causing the death of an elderly Kilkenny man near Mitchelstown two years ago failed to reach a verdict yesterday after four hours of deliberation.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin asked the jury at lunchtime yesterday if additional time for deliberation would be of any use for them. The jury foreperson replied that further time would not help.

Acknowledging this deadlock the judge instructed them to write “disagree” on the issue paper. The judge added: “Don’t worry about it, you did your best.”

The issue in the case was whether the death of the 81-year-old was caused by the careless driving.

Glenn Howard, aged 34, of Leesdale, Model Farm Rd, Cork, pleaded not guilty to careless driving causing the death of John Dermody, a front seat passenger in another car on the M8 at Ballybeg, Mitchelstown, Co Cork, on October 13, 2015. Alice Fawsett, defending, said on behalf of the accused: “There is no issue about driving, there is no denial that it was careless driving, the issue is whether his careless driving caused the death.”

Pathologist Margot Bolster confirmed the deceased had been taking Warfarin, an anti-coagulant prescribed for him because of a risk of stroke. The pathologist said this medication would make an injured party more vulnerable to bleeding.

Dr Bolster said the deceased had some long-standing medical conditions prior to the accident.

Ms Fawsett said: “The issue is whether the injuries in the accident contributed in a real way to his death.”

Siobhán Lankford, prosecuting, told the jury: “The prosecution says the defendant has to take the person who is injured as he finds him. The people in the silver Kia were not 21/22. You might feel sorry for the accused, that he crashed into a car where the occupants were not in the best of health but that is the reality.

“You are not being asked was it the full cause but did it contribute to it in more than a minimal way?”

The jury had Dr Bolster’s conclusions summarised by the judge in his closing address at Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday, as stating that the cause of death was pneumonia associated with heart disease complicated by head injury due to road traffic collision.

The case was adjourned for mention in February.


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