Triple death driver on drink and drug binge, inquest told

A driver was on a cocaine and drink fuelled binge when he crashed his car at high speed killing the three young back-seat passengers, an inquest heard tonight.

A driver was on a cocaine and drink fuelled binge when he crashed his car at high speed killing the three young back-seat passengers, an inquest heard tonight.

Peter O’Rourke and Anthony Murphy, both 18, who were out celebrating their Leaving Certificate exams which had just finished that day, received serious head injuries in the crash at 3.45am on June 20, 2003.

The pair were thrown from the Nissan Micra, when it collided with an electricity pole on the junction of the Dublin Road and Sutton Park.

Aston Ryan, 21, from Grangemore Crescent, Donaghmede, Co Dublin, who was also in the back seat, died from multiple injuries after the high-speed crash.

The driver, Kieran Bolger, who is serving eight-years in the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise, admitted snorting cocaine on several occasions and drinking in many pubs on the night of the horrendous crash.

The carpenter, who was 21 at the time and from the Lentisk Lawns in Donaghmede, told the Dublin City Coroner’s Court: “I rang a guy I knew for a bag of cocaine, €100 for a two grams bag of coke. I went into the toilet and did a bit.”

He admitted having three pints of Budweiser in one pub, a vodka and Red Bull as well as several snorts of vodka as they drove around between pubs – before picking up Aston Ryan and Rory Conroy.

“We did the rest of the cocaine off a video case in the car,” he said. “We tried to get more cocaine. We couldn’t get any.”

Front seat passenger, Rory Conroy, who survived the crash, was drinking in a pub with Mr Ryan on the night, before they got into Mr Bolger’s car. He told the inquest after the others arrived in the pub they bought takeaway cans and vodka before leaving.

Mr Bolger said his friend Mr Ross then asked to go home and he thought he was nervous about the speed of the car.

“I was overtaking a few cars and running a few red lights, there weren’t many around,” said Mr Bolger, who was accompanied to court by prison wardens.

He told the court Mr Ross, Mr Conroy and Mr Ryan were “egging” him on in the car.

Mr Ross told the inquest that when he was dropped home to Lentisk Lawns in the early hours of the morning – Mr O’Rourke from Lentisk Lawns in Donamede and Mr Murphy from Beverton Road in Donabate then jumped into the car.

Mr Bolger revealed he was driving along the straight road known locally as the Howth Road in Sutton after the two celebrating students got in. He added: “I don’t remember how we crashed. Next thing I remember is being surrounded by gardaí.”

The father of Mr Murphy asked the driver: “Why continue to drive when you were so drunk and high on cocaine?”

Mr Bolger said he could not remember.

Taxi driver Marion Whelan, told the court that just before the accident at 3.45am in the early hours of June 20 the Nissan Micra had passed her at high speed – and she believed they were joyriding in a stolen car.

She added: “When they passed me out the Micra was over the white line. They stayed on the right side of the road the whole way down it.”

A statement to the court from a witness, Thomas Lawless, said: “The car hit the ESB pole first then spun. The electricity wires on the ESB pole were flashing like it had been struck by lightning.”

John Gibney, who had just returned from Dublin city centre, said the impact was so strong the street lights had gone out.

Karl Kindellan, an ambulance driver, told the inquest that when he arrived at the scene there were two men on the ground with no signs of life.

Gda Matthew Edgewood, vehicle inspector, said the car was in good condition before the crash. He said there was very heavy damage to the rear of the vehicle where it had struck the pole.

He added: “Just one seat-belt appeared to be used. The front left passenger.”

A statement from Gda Colm Finn said the car was travelling between 74 and 83 miles per hour when it skidded and travelled sideways before hitting the ESB pole and then a bollard.

Another garda told the court that as he came upon the scene there were two young men thrown around 30 yards away, a man in the passenger seat and a man who appeared to be the driver was sitting on the ground in a dazed condition.

Sgt Michael Grady said a half empty bottle of vodka was found under the driver’s seat in the car.

The court heard Mr Bolger, who pleaded guilty, was given an eight-year sentence, with three suspended for remorse, for dangerous driving causing death and drink driving by the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court last November.

The jury passed a verdict of loss of life as a result of dangerous driving causing death.

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