Tuesday 26 September 2017

Cyclist's widow grew concerned when husband didn't return home to take sons to football practise, court hears

Shane Fitzgerald of Upper Knockeen, Knockduff, Meelin, Newmarket, Co Cork, has pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of cyclist Paudie O'Leary (42) at Scrahanfadda, Gneeveguilla, Co Kerry on July 1, 2012
Shane Fitzgerald of Upper Knockeen, Knockduff, Meelin, Newmarket, Co Cork, has pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of cyclist Paudie O'Leary (42) at Scrahanfadda, Gneeveguilla, Co Kerry on July 1, 2012
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

The widow of a cyclist killed while out training said she knew there was something wrong when her husband hadn't returned home to take their boys to football practice.

Margaret O'Leary heard her husband Paud (42) was dead while standing in her kitchen with her brother-in-law Aeneas, who received the news over the phone from another family member.

The family had been searching for the father-of-four after his wife raised the alarm when he hadn't returned by midday.

He was found in a ditch less than 2km from his home in Leamyglissane, Gneeveguilla, Co Kerry by his brother-in-law Jerry O'Callaghan.

Shane Fitzgerald (23) of Upper Knockeen, Knockduff, Meelin, Newmarket, Co Cork denies dangerous driving causing his death at Scrahanfadda, Gneeveguilla on July 1, 2012.

Mrs O'Leary told his trial at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court her husband had gone to bed at around 10pm the previous night after first putting their daughter Antoinette, who has Down Syndrome, to bed.

She said Paud had a "special relationship" with their second daughter and always put her to bed.

The following morning he left their home at around 5am to go for a cycle.

Mrs O'Leary and Antoinette went to Mass later that morning and afterwards she attempted to contact her husband on his mobile phone to see if he was en route with his two boys to football practice.

When her older daughter Shannon told her he still hadn't returned, she said she knew something was wrong and contacted the gardai to see if there had been an accident.

Mrs O'Leary also contacted her parents in law before she took her sons to training.

She was back home at around 1.15pm that afternoon when she heard the news.

"All I could hear was that he was dead," she told the court, adding that she then went to the scene with her daughter Shannon, arriving before the gardai.

Breaking down with her voice barely audible, she said: "I knew he was dead. I didn't go down to him. I just could not believe it. It was horrendous."

Shannon was held back by relatives and stood on the side of the road. She was very upset.

Mrs O'Leary said her children saw their father later that day in the coffin when he was being taken from the scene.

Mr O'Leary's sister Mairead and her husband Jerry O'Callaghan had gone out searching for Paud that day.

Mr O'Callaghan said he saw debris on the road at Scrahanfadda and reversed the car. When he got out, he noticed his brother-in-law's rucksack on the ditch and his mobile phone was ringing.

"I knew at that stage Paud was there some place even though I hadn't see the body," he told the court.

He said he made a gap in the hedge near where the bag was found and saw Paud stooped and leaning against the dyke with his bicycle on top of him.

"He was thrown against the hedge," the witness added. "I checked for a pulse but he was stone cold. His mouth was half open and I knew by his colour he was dead."

He said he then went back to the roadside to console his wife.

The following day, near to the O'Leary home, Mr O'Callaghan found a bumper in the ditch.

He said the ditch had only been trimmed that day by council workers.

The trial continues.

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