Ex-rugby star gave differing accounts of crash that killed boy
Published 01/04/2010 | 05:00
A DRUNK Irish rugby star gave gardai contradictory statements at the scene of a fatal road crash after his jeep ploughed into another vehicle, killing a teenage boy.
Eddie Halvey, who played with Munster and Ireland, did not appear in Nenagh yesterday for the inquest into the death of Kevin Walsh (16), who was killed on this day four years ago at Coole, Toomevara, Co Tipperary.
Coroner Joe Kelly said Halvey, from South Circular Road, Limerick, had received a number of invitations to attend the inquest. The jury heard from gardai who investigated the collision, which occurred on the N7 Limerick-to-Dublin road.
The young victim from Sycamore Drive, Bruff, Co Limerick, was travelling with his uncles Vincent and Declan Tierney to Newry to buy a new car for Declan's hackney business when they came across cattle on the road.
They alerted gardai before stopping their BMW car on the side of the road with the lights and hazards on. The collision occurred at 5.10am when Halvey's 2005-registered Toyota Land Cruiser struck the rear of the parked BMW.
Detective Declan O'Carroll from Nenagh garda station said the youth was slumped over in the rear of the car with his seat-belt on. Det O'Carroll said he tried to talk to Kevin, but got no response.
The court heard that Halvey was unsteady on his feet, spoke in a slurred manner and admitted that he had had a few drinks.
At the scene, Halvey told the officer that the BMW had pulled across the road from the other side before he struck it. However, he also said the BMW had pulled out from the left-hand side before the collision.
Forensic garda investigator Sergeant John Moore told the inquest he had "no doubt" that the car driven by Vincent Tierney was stationary when the collision occurred.
"The BMW was hit heavily from behind by the Land Cruiser. The damage of the car is consistent with the vehicle being stationary at the moment of impact," Sgt Moore said.
While it was dark, road conditions were good at the time and Sgt Moore said Halvey was travelling at a minimum speed of 69kmh.
A statement from Dr Elizabeth Mulcahy was also read, stating that the victim died from cardiac arrest from a ruptured aorta. After a short deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure.
The coroner said it was a tragic and unnecessary death on the roads. He added that the actions of Kevin and his uncles should be commended.
Kevin's mother Kate Walsh said she was "delighted" with the verdict from the inquest.
"My brother was proved to be telling the truth of what happened that night and that is brilliant," Ms Walsh said.
"We will have pain for the rest of our lives, but we might be able to move forward. I want to thank everyone that signed petitions and backed our campaign for justice. The gardai and ambulance men were brilliant -- they did everything for my son," she said.
Vincent Tierney -- the victim's godfather -- said the inquest brought closure for him as it was proved that his car had been stationary.
Last year, Halvey was convicted for drink driving and careless driving and received a seven-month suspended prison sentence. He was also banned from driving for seven years.