A 14-year-old girl was thrown through the front window of a car and found dead around 5m-10m away in a field in Kerry.

Caitlin Taylor, of Gouldshill, Mallow, was a passenger in the Toyota Yaris car driven by Sarah O’Connell (now aged 24) of Sean Moylan Park, Mallow, Co Cork. Also in the car was the 18-month-old daughter of Ms O’Connell.

The child was found, unharmed and still strapped into her booster seat, at the back of the badly damaged car in the dark low-lying field sometime after 11pm.

The Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee has heard Ms Taylor’s body was surrounded and concealed by a herd of cows shortly after the car in which she had been a passenger left the road between Ballydesmond and Scartaglen on the night of Sunday, June 15, 2014.

Ms O’Connell denies a charge of careless driving causing the death of Ms Taylor at Knockeenahone, Scartaglen, Co Kerry.

A jury of seven women and five men have been sworn in.

Day one of the trial heard how the car was on its way from Mallow, and was 60km into its journey on the R577 midway between Ballydesmond and Scartaglen.

The court heard they were intending to go to Castleisland in Co Kerry when the accident occurred.

Tom Rice, prosecuting, said the prosecution alleged that as the car approached a left-hand bend it crossed a continuous white line, mounted a ditch, and went into a field lower than the road.

“Ms Taylor was thrown from the vehicle and sustained fatal injuries at the scene,” Mr Rice said.

The car sustained damage to its front, roof, rear and passenger side and the front and back windscreens were both absent, said Garda Mary Linnane of the divisional scenes of crime unit said.

Sarah O’Connell, of Sean Moylan Park, Mallow, Co Cork, at Tralee Court yesterday. She denies a charge of careless driving causing the death of Caitlin Taylor. Picture: MacMonagle, Killarney
Sarah O’Connell, of Sean Moylan Park, Mallow, Co Cork, at Tralee Court yesterday. She denies a charge of careless driving causing the death of Caitlin Taylor. Picture: MacMonagle, Killarney

She agreed with Mark Nichols, defending, that the ditch mounted by the car was a low ditch, a grass mound. Garda Linnane also agreed the car had been going slightly downhill, following the natural contour of the land, and the land inside the low ditch was lower than the road.

Witness Peter Madden had been coming from Dingle and was on his way to Mallow that night. He was some distance beyond the village of Scartaglen when he came across a woman in a state of distress on the side of the road and waving to him to stop.

He feared it might be a set-up. The woman was on the phone to “a man” who turned out to be the emergency services and she told him: “I was in a crash. My friend is in the field.”

Mr Madden went into the field where he found a car. He could only open the back door and was surprised to see an infant child sitting quietly in the child seat in the back of the car.

He believed this was the “friend” but the young woman insisted her friend was still in the field.

Mr Madden told how the body had been discovered in the middle of a herd of cattle and how the animals were concealing the body.

Another witness, Marion Dennehy, was on her way home from Currow, Castleisland, and her two sons were with her. She said Ms O’Connell was distraught, in a daze, and injured. She kept calling out for her “friend” and kept saying she was in the field. Ms O’Connell was sitting on the side of the road, and was dressed in riding gear and riding boots.

Ms Dennehy and her son Adrian were at the crashed vehicle with the baby and everyone thought the baby was the friend, Ms Dennehy told Mr Rice.

Her younger son Cian joined them at the crashed car.

In a statement read to the court by Mr Rice, Cian Dennehy said: “I glanced over and saw all the cows had gathered and I knew there must be something.”

Cian had scattered the cattle, the jury were told. The girl was lying in the field, 5m-10m in front of the car with the car windscreen alongside her.

Ms Dennehy performed CPR on Ms Taylor until paramedics arrived.

Paramedic Kenneth O’Sullivan who arrived at the scene at 23.37 found the baby in the rear seat alert and with a good colour.

When Ms Taylor was found, she had no pulse and was not breathing.

The trial continues.

Mr Rice has told the jury that the charge of careless driving causing death was not a charge of dangerous driving causing death and was a lesser charge.


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