“Crash causer” not guilty

There were some emotional scenes in the District Court when a woman accused of causing a four-car pile-up which involved a car carrying a mother and four children was involved had her charges dismissed.

“Put all my kids through that and she gets dismissed? Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” said Majella Tuohy, their mother and one of the prosecution witnesses.

“She nearly killed my kids and walks away? This isn’t over,” shouted her husband as he was led from the court.

Andrea Murray (24 ) from Clooneyquinn, Elphin, Co Roscommon was before a special sitting of the District Court last week (October 24 ) on a careless driving charge after the multi-vehicle prang at Barrybeg, Hill of Berries on August 24 last year.

The accident, in which two people, including the defendant, were hospitalised, involved a Passat, an Avensis, a Zafira and a Focus.

A forensic report said the event occurred across the brow of a hill on a wide road. The day was dry and visibility was good.

The first witness the court heard from was local man Niall Murray who testified that on the day in question he was on the Roscommon road out of Athlone going home for lunch in his black Passat.

He was stopped in the road and was indicating right to turn into his house when he was rear-ended and “knocked unconscious for some minutes”.

He admitted to defence solicitor, Sean Mahon, that he didn’t see the car being driven by the defendant.

The second witness, Majella Tuohy, told the court she had been driving towards Athlone in a line of traffic and was in a people carrier with her four children.

At the Hill of Berries she noticed two cars on the opposite side of the road, one of which “was behaving erratically”.

“It swerved twice, in and out like it was losing control,” she said.

“Next I heard was bang-bang-bang when I was hit by a car. I don’t know which one. It all happened in a split second”.

The third witness was a juvenile front seat passenger in the Tuohy car who testified that, of the two oncoming cars: “the second one, the silver car, hit the black one and then into us”.

“It seemed like it was overtaking,” she said.

A fourth witness, Rose McLoughlin, who was driving the Focus towards Athlone, told the court she was hit on the side and put in a spin.

Her car was found on its roof in an adjacent field and Ms McLoughlin, unconscious, was hospitalised.

The fifth witness was Garda Eddie Davin, a forensics expert, who gave evidence that the order of impact was Avensis-Passat-Zafira-Focus and he handed in diagrams of the crash scene to the court.

“Even the most experienced driver would have little chance of recovering from this impact,” he said.

Garda Davin said, that after the initial impact, he believed the Avensis “then went inside the Passat, turned over and ended up further down the road”.

Judge David Anderson interrupted the garda and pointed out his evidence contradicted that of the front seat passenger of Mrs Tuohy’s car who had said the silver car (the defendant’s Avensis ) “hit the black one and the silver car came towards theirs”.

Judge Anderson quoted a legal term res ibsa loquitor (the event speaks for itself ) to Inspector Nicholas Farrell and asked him if he had any further evidence.

The inspector believed he had presented enough evidence but the judge disagreed.

“There could be 101 reasons why she swerved,” said the judge.

“It’s not a crime to not be in control of a car. It’s a crime to be driving carelessly”.

He then dismissed the charge against Murray.

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