Case dropped after 14 years against driver whose friend died in crash

A MAN who was driving a stolen car when it crashed 14 years ago resulting in the death of his friend will not face prosecution, it finally emerged yesterday.

Cork Coroner’s Court was told that as a result of High Court orders, the Director of Public Prosecutions has directed that criminal proceedings which had been instituted against Jesse O’Sullivan after the 1994 crash, be stopped.

The news emerged as city coroner Dr Myra Cullinane reopened one of the country’s longest-adjourned inquests.

Anthony Dowdall, who lived at 8 Allen Square, off Blarney Street, Cork, was 19 when he suffered fatal injuries when the stolen car in which he was a passenger crashed in the early hours of July 3, 1994.

The inquest has been opened and adjourned several times over the years.

Mr O’Sullivan, who was 23 at the time, moved to England after recovering from the crash. Originally from Knocknaheeny, he lives with family in London.

Dr Cullinane said she was anxious that Mr Dowdall’s father, Tony, and his brother, John, who were in court, would finally get answers.

Mr O’Sullivan told the inquest he and Anthony went drinking in Ballincollig on the night of July 2. He said they took a car from the former West Park Hotel at around midnight.

Under questioning from Dr Cullinane, Mr O’Sullivan admitted he had no driving licence and was not an experienced driver.

He told the inquest he was driving and Anthony was in the passenger seat.

As they drove from Ballincollig onto a sweeping right-hand bend on the Carrigrohane Road, Mr O’Sullivan said the car skidded to the left.

He managed to negotiate the bend but lost control coming out of the bend. The car slammed passenger side first into a ditch and tree on the right side of the road at about 2am.

Mr Dowdall suffered severe head and chest injuries, and a broken neck, and was pronounced dead at the former Regional Hospital at 3am. Mr O’Sullivan survived the crash.

He gave a cautioned statement to gardaí afterwards and criminal proceedings were instituted.

But the inquest was told those charges have been stopped, given the length of time since the accident.

The jury recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Speaking afterwards, Mr O’Sullivan said he attended the hearing to clear his conscience. “I’m on the straight and narrow now,” he said.

But Anthony’s grieving father criticised the justice system. He said he heard for the first time yesterday that the charges had been stopped.

He said he didn’t believe Mr O’Sullivan’s version of events from that night. But he said he wanted to let his son rest in peace.

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