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Bail for drink-driver who ran down cyclist then skipped country

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Shane Fitzgerald

Shane Fitzgerald

Shane Fitzgerald

CCTV evidence proved crucial in convicting a drink driver who killed a cyclist after five hours of drinking and then fled the country.

Shane Fitzgerald had left Ireland within 24 hours of the fatal crash which killed Paud O'Leary (42), initially going to Britain and then Australia.

The 23-year-old had denied the charge of dangerous driving causing death.

But the jury accepted he was the man CCTV footage showed slumped asleep over a bar and staggering back to retrieve his car at Killarney Train Station in the early hours of the morning, after spending five hours drinking.

They also accepted Fitzgerald was the man who sat into his dark grey Toyota Land Cruiser at the train station on July 1, 2012 before deciding to drive home. He hit and killed Mr O'Leary at Scrahanfadda, Gneeveguilla, Co Kerry.

Fitzgerald - who could be jailed for 10 years - was remanded on continuing bail until April 22.

He showed little emotion as the verdict was announced. The faces of his parents, Dan Joe and Nora, gave little away.

Also in the courtroom were about 20 members of Mr O'Leary's extended family, who were there to hear Fitzgerald's fate after a four-week trial.

There were emotional scenes among them when the guilty verdict was read out.

Some of the O'Leary family hugged, while others sobbed.

Paud O'Leary's wife Margaret O'Leary sat stoically with her sons, Ross (10) and Paudie (12), and daughter Shannon (17).

As he left the courtroom, the victim's brother, Seán Óg, stared at the man who had caused the death of his brother.

Sentence

Judge Thomas E O'Donnell remanded Fitzgerald - of Upper Knockeen, Knockduff, Meelin, Newmarket, Co Cork - on continuing bail until his sentence hearing on April 22.

Prosecuting counsel Tom Rice told the court Fitzgerald had been arrested on foot of an extradition warrant in London and had been refused bail at the district court, but was later granted bail by the High Court with certain conditions.

Michael O'Higgins, defending, opposed an application to remand Fitzgerald in custody. Judge O'Donnell also ordered a probation report to be prepared.

Irish Independent