‘Unmanned electric car hit boy, 5, and broke his leg’

An electric-powered Renault hybrid car, having been parked by its driver, raced of its own accord across a car park, striking and injuring a five-year-old child, a judge heard Tuesday.

John Leahy, father of Sean Leahy, pictured leaving the Four Courts yesterday. Pic: Collins Courts

Barrister Fiona Crawford told Judge Terence O’Sullivan that Sean Leahy’s mother, Jean Leahy, bravely attempted to pull her son and other children clear of the path of the driverless car, but it had struck Sean, breaking his right leg.

Ms Crawford, who appeared for Sean with Patrick Geaney Solicitors, said, in the Circuit Civil Court, that the car had continued until it crashed into another parked vehicle, on the opposite side of the car park attached to Arabian Nights Gym, Baldoyle Industrial Estate, Dublin 13.

Judge O’Sullivan heard that the driver of the electric car, Ms Fiona Bonke, had just exited the vehicle through the passenger door, when it shot across the car park.

Ms Bonke had immediately rushed to help Sean and his mother.

Ms Crawford said that Sean, of St Sampson’s Square, Balgriffin, Co Dublin, had been to the Arabian Nights Gym with his mother and sister on October 13, 2016, and they had been walking across the car park.

Sean, who is now aged seven, sued Ms Bonke through his father, John. 

The boy was taken on a spinal board to Temple Street Children’s Hospital, where an x-ray had confirmed he had suffered an undisplaced fracture. His leg was put in a plaster of Paris to above his knee.

Judge O’Sullivan said that, having read the medical reports associated with Sean’s treatment and recovery, it was clear he had suffered a significant post-traumatic stress disorder.

He said an Injuries Board assessment of €45,000 was not appropriate in the circumstances and he felt that proceedings on the boy’s behalf should be taken in the unlimited jurisdiction of the High Court.

“I would have no difficulty in awarding the full €60,000 jurisdiction of the Circuit Court in this case and I will refuse to approve the Injuries Board assessment,” said the judge. 

“Proceedings should now be taken in the High Court.”

Judge O’Sullivan said that Sean, because of his leg cast, had been confined for some time to a wheelchair and had missed playing sports and a number of birthday parties of his friends. 

He had been in the cast up until Christmas of 2016.

Ms Crawford said she had considered the assessment, even for the undisplaced fracture alone, to be very much on the low side and added that an opportunity would be given to Ms Bonke’s insurance company to re-engage in the matter.

Judge O’Sullivan awarded Sean’s legal team its costs of the application on Tuesday.

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