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Saturday 30 August 2014

Landmark case as drink driver found guilty

Kathryn Hayes

Published 26/01/2013 | 05:00

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A 29-YEAR-OLD man has been found guilty of dangerous driving causing the death of a couple in a landmark trial where hospital records were allowed as evidence to prove his blood alcohol level at the time of the crash.

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Michael Harty (29), of St Mary's Terrace, Askeaton, Co Limerick, was almost twice the legal alcohol limit when he caused a crash which killed Maurice Hartnett (61) and his 59-year-old wife Margaret at Ardtomin, Askeaton, Co Limerick, on July 29, 2009.

Mrs Hartnett, a mother of six, was found dead at the scene of the accident that occurred shortly after 5.30pm as the couple were driving to their home in Gurteen, Ballingarry, Co Limerick.

Mr Hartnett, a tiler, suffered a heart attack as a result of the crash and died shortly after admission to the Mid Western Regional Hospital in Limerick

During the trial, the court was told that Harty was almost twice the legal alcohol limit for driving at the time of the fatal collision. The court heard Harty had massive internal bleeding and was "at risk of dying" when he was admitted to hospital.

Gardai had requested a blood alcohol test be carried out but this was refused by doctors because of his serious medical condition.

Defence counsel Anthony Sammon accused Kevin O'Connell, laboratory manager at the Mid Western Regional Hospital, of breaching a code practice when he gave Harty's blood test results to gardai.

Mr Sammon argued the consent form signed by his client didn't extend to the releasing of all of his medical records.

Sentencing was adjourned until January 30.

Irish Independent

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