By Gordon Deegan
A driver who crashed causing the death of a close friend after he became confused over his SatNav telling him to go the wrong direction near the Cliffs of Moher today walked free from court.
At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Gerald Keys imposed a 12-month suspended jail term on Grzegorz Barski for the careless driving causing the death of his friend, Grzegorz Frydrych and causing serious bodily harm to Charles Killeen on May 31, 2016.
In imposing the suspended jail term, Judge Keys also imposed a mandatory five-year driving ban on Mr Barski who has not driven a car since the fatal accident.
Judge Keys also imposed a fine of €800.
Judge Keys made his ruling after counsel for the State, Lorcan Connolly BL said that the State accepted that a SatNav telling Mr Barski to go straight on instead of taking a right for the Cliffs of Moher at a junction was a contributory cause in the fatal accident on May 31, 2016.
In the crash, the front-seat passenger in Mr Barski’s car, Mr Frydrych died while a motorcyclist, Charles Killeen, who collided with the car, suffered head injuries, including a fractured skull and multiple broken facial bones and was hospitalised for one month.
In the case, Mr Barski (36) of Jugback Crescent, Swords, Co Dublin pleaded guilty to careless driving causing the death of Mr Frydrych and careless driving causing serious bodily harm to Mr Killeen.
Mr Barski’s car collided with Mr Killeen’s motorbike at a junction on the Wild Atlantic Way near the Cliffs of Moher after Mr Barski failed to spot a 'Stop' sign near the junction.
In his judgement, Judge Keys said that aggravating factors in the case were that there was a loss of life, the serious injury to Mr Killeen and that Mr Barski had failed to observe a ‘Stop’ sign prior to entering the junction.
On the mitigating factors in the case, Judge Keys said that there was an early plea, Mr Barski has expressed remorse; he has apologised; he has no previous convictions; he fully co-operated with the Gardaí; speed and drugs were not a factor and that there was no erratic driving prior to the crash.
Counsel for Mr Barski, Rebecca Treacy BL said that Mr Barski was following a SatNav system in travelling from Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher.
Mr Barski was travelling along the Wild Atlantic Way with his friend, Mr Frydrych and a female passenger who was in the back seat of the car.
Mr Barski was driving up a narrow country road near Doonagore Castle in Doolin that would meet with a junction on the R478 that would lead south to the Cliffs of Moher.
Ms Treacy said: “On coming to the junction, Mr Barski thought that he had to go right to the Cliffs and the SatNAV was telling him to go straight on.
“Mr Barski had slowed down and was confused in relation to the instructions that the SatNAV system was giving to him at the time and this would be a factor in how he missed the 'Stop' sign and continued to drive through the particular junction.”
Mr Connolly said that Mr Barski was confused, didn’t know which was to way to go and before he knew it, it was too late as there was an impact with Mr Killeen’s motorcycle. Mr Connolly said: “The confusion about the SatNav and momentarily inattention to see the 'Stop' sign is what caused the accident.”
Ms Treacy said that the 'Stop' sign was located back from the junction and that there were no road markings confirming that there was a requirement to stop at the junction.
Ms Treacy said that the 'Stop' markings on the road have since been painted on the road.
Ms Treacy said: “It was simply a momentary lapse in concentration. Mr Barski’s remorse over the death of his friend is genuine and he offers his sincere deep apologies.”