Aunt on trial for child crash deaths
A WOMAN facing charges of dangerous driving causing the deaths of a niece and nephew had no child seats or booster seats in her car, a trial heard yesterday.
Vera Murden (40), of Fatima Court, Dundalk, Co Louth, has pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving causing the deaths of brother and sister Jenna (4) and Jayden Murden (1).
Dundalk Circuit Criminal Court yesterday heard they were two of five children travelling with her in a Hyundai Santa Fe SUV that left the road and crashed into the wall of a former pub at the junction of Maxwell Row and the Newry Bridge in Dundalk.
The accident happened just before 4pm on January 31, 2009.
Jenna died on February 24 and Jayden died on March 10.
A number of garda witnesses who were at the accident scene said there were no child seats or booster seats to correctly restrain the children.
A motorist, Shane Finnegan, who through his rear view mirror saw the SUV hit the wall, said he had first noticed it as it passed by him and he said the speed it was going at was "excessive".
However, when Giollaiosa O Lideadha, defending, put it to him that he had told gardai the speed was stupid and ridiculous rather than dangerous, Mr Finnegan agreed with him.
Mr Finnegan was the first person at the scene and said there was a lot of smoke and he saw children in the back of the car. He said they were more or less on top of one another.
The court heard he had lifted out a boy and then a girl and that other motorists who came on the scene also helped.
After the crash, Ms Murden sat in the passenger seat of the car of a passing driver, Carol Hutchinson. She asked her (the accused) what happened and she replied she thought she had taken a fit of some sort.
The court heard that the other children in the car were John (10), a brother of the dead children; Chloe (8), another niece of the accused; and Conor (8), who is a son of the accused.
Opening the case for the prosecution, Jonathan Kilfeather said it was by nature a tragic case.
The issue is whether or not the driving of the accused was dangerous, as alleged, and the task required of the jury was to judge the quality of her driving on the day in question.
The trial continues before Judge Michael O'Shea.