Farm Ireland

Monday 11 December 2017

Trial begins of farmer accused of causing dad's death in tractor and cattle lorry crash

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Michael Donnelly

A Tyrone farmer has gone on trial accused of causing the death by dangerous driving of his 69-year-old father.

In what was described as a "particularly tragic" in which only the heartless would have no sympathy," the Belfast Telegraph reports.

Pensioner Phelim Alexander Brady suffered multiple injuries when a cattle lorry driven by his son Paul crashed into the rear of the tractor and trailer in June 2014.

This Sunday will mark the third anniversary of the tragic event.

Sitting it the dock of Dungannon Crown Court yesterday, sometimes with his head buried in his hands, Paul Alexander Brady listened as the prosecution claimed he was guilty because he allowed his father to travel on the draw bar between the tractor and trailer.

The 46-year-old from Minterburn road, in Caledon, is also accused of causing his father's "untimely death" by driving whilst disqualified and without insurance, on the Woodlough A4 dual carriageway Road between Dungannon and Caledon.

In the dock beside him, also denying the death by dangerous driving charge, was 53-year-old lorry driver William Mark Murphy, from Prospect Road, Ballyward in Co Down.  Murphy pleaded guilty to causing Mr Brady's death by careless driving, a plea which was not accepted by the prosecution.

In his opening to the jury of seven men and five women Peter Irvine QC appealed to them to put aside any feelings of sympathy or prejudice, but admitted what they would hear was a "particularly tragic case, a case where you will have a heart of stone if you were not to have a sympathetic disposal to the facts".

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The lawyer for the prosecution said that when later interviewed by police, the younger Brady said he had not wanted to drive the tractor, but only agreed after his father, who rode on the draw bar, asked him to help take cattle to the Dungannon market.

The court heard that immediately after the accident he told police: "I told him he shouldn't be on the draw bar".

Mr Irvine said while it was "quite clear Mr Brady Jr... clearly did not wish his father to be transported in this manner, it is also clear, that is what happened, and his father rode upon this draw bar as the trailer was being driven along and did so for a distance of ten miles from the Brady farm to where the collision occurred".

The lawyer said that by allowing his father to ride on the draw bar his driving fell "far below" what would have been expected from a careful and competent driver, and that it would have been "obvious" to such a driver this was "inherently dangerous".

Turning to Murphy, the lawyer said that he told police that as he approached the tractor-trailer he slowed and was about to overtake it when he was forced to abandon the move by a speeding car overtaking him.

Mr Irvine claimed that Murphy, whose speed was estimated to be around 56mph, had driven into the back of the trailer at "significant speed".

The lawyer added that "whether or not he had abandoned an overtaking manoeuvre" he had failed to "alter his speed to accommodate the slower driven tractor".

The lawyer said this driving fell "far below the standard of a careful and competent driver, and we say that amounts to dangerous driving".

The trial, expected to last until next week, continues on Friday.

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Belfast Telegraph