Man found guilty in Kerry hit-and-run case

A 23-year-old man was found guilty by a jury of dangerous driving causing the death of a 42-year-old father.

Man found guilty in Kerry hit-and-run case

Shane Fitzgerald, of Knockeen, Meelin, Newmarket, Co Cork, had denied the charge arising from an accident in which cyclist Paud O’Leary died at Scrahanfadda, Gneeveguilla, Co Kerry, on July 1, 2012.

The accused showed no visible reaction after the jury of seven men and four women returned an unanimous verdict following three hours’ deliberation at the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee.

Mr O’Leary’s widow, Margaret, and three of her four children — Shannon, Ross and Paudie — were in court when the verdict was announced.

Members of the extended O’Leary family, also in the public gallery, reacted with relief and cried and shook hands. They also came forward to congratulate investigating gardaí and members of the legal team who prosecuted the case.

Judge Thomas E O’Donnell remanded Fitzgerald on bail for sentencing to April 22. The charge of which he was convicted carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

The judge earlier told jurors the verdicts open to them were: guilty/or not guilty of dangerous driving causing death; guilty/or not guilty of careless driving causing death.

The jury had been shown over three hours of CCTV footage which tracked the movements of Fitzgerald’s dark grey Toyota Land Cruiser, on June 30/July 1, 2012.

Mr Fitzgerald was seen on CCTV having up to five drinks with friends in Killarney pubs before he drove out of Killarney at around 5am on July 1, towards Gneeveguilla.

The accident occurred at around 5.15am, with the right front side of a vehicle colliding with Mr O’Leary, who was cycling in the opposite direction.

The vehicle did not remain at the scene and Mr O’Leary’s body was found in a deep drain, with his buckled bicycle, eight hours later.

Mr Fitzgerald went to England the day after the accident and then travelled to Australia.

He returned to England in early 2014 but was arrested for extradition as he was about to board a flight back to Australia on February 11 last year.

The development had followed a major Garda investigation, also involving police in the UK and Australia.

The land cruiser, registered in Fitzgerald’s name, has not been found. He claimed he sold it privately in England and used the money to fund his trip to Australia. He had no previous convictions, the four-week trial had been told.

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READ MORE:  CCTV footage proved crucial to prosecution

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