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Accused 'went to UK on day cyclist killed'

A MAN accused of dangerous driving causing the death of a father-of-four left the country for the UK within 24 hours of the collision, a jury has heard.

While in the UK, Shane Fitzgerald (23) applied for a visa to Australia and flew there within weeks, his trial was told.

Mr 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.

Mr O'Leary had gone out training for the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle when he was killed in a collision that occurred at around 5.15am.

In opening statements at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court, prosecuting counsel Tom Rice said it was alleged Mr O'Leary was struck by Fitzgerald's dark grey Toyota Landcruiser, registration number 07 D 24280, which did not stop and failed to remain at the scene. Mr Rice said it was not "without evidential significance" that the vehicle had never been recovered.

He said CCTV footage taken from a number of licensed premises in Killarney on June 30, 2012, including Scruffy's and the Danny Man Inn, would show the accused purchasing and consuming alcohol.

The prosecution alleges the accused remained socialising until 4.30am and then returned to the car park of Killarney Train Station where he retrieved his vehicle and began driving home.

Mr Rice told the jury they would be invited to examine CCTV coverage taken at approximately 5.15am as the vehicle passed An Geata Bán, close to where the accident happened, and again at 5.30am in Ballydesmond in Co Cork.

Mr O'Leary left his home in Gneeveguilla at around 5am to go for a training cycle. The court heard he regularly got up at daybreak to go for a cycle in preparation for the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle.

His family grew concerned when he hadn't returned home by midday and launched a search. They found his body and his bicycle lying in a deep hedgerow at around 1.15pm.

Debris found close to the gap in the hedge where he was found came from the right hand side of a grey Toyota Landcruiser.

A forensic examination of the bike showed the impact had been on its right-hand side also, which indicated Mr O'Leary had been travelling on the correct side of the road.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent