Saturday 24 February 2018

Body of teenage girl was found in field 10 metres from crash scene, court hears

Caitlin Taylor (14) was killed in the crash. Sarah O'Connell fom Mallow, Co Cork pictured at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court (Picture: Macmonagle, Killarney)
Caitlin Taylor (14) was killed in the crash. Sarah O'Connell fom Mallow, Co Cork pictured at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court (Picture: Macmonagle, Killarney)
Caitlin Taylor (14), who was thrown from the crashed car

Anne Lucey

The body of a 14-year-old girl was found in a field up to 10 metres away from the scene of a car crash, a court has heard.

Caitlin Taylor had been a passenger in the Toyota Yaris driven by Sarah O'Connell (24), of Sean Moylan Park, Mallow, Co Cork.

The car left the road between Ballydesmond and Scartaglen, Co Kerry, on Sunday, June 15, in 2014, the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee was told.

Also in the car was Ms O'Connell's 18-month-old daughter. She was found unharmed still strapped into her booster seat in the back of the badly damaged car some time after 11pm.

Sarah O’Connell from Mallow, Co Cork, at the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee yesterday. Photo: Macmonagle, Killarney
Sarah O’Connell from Mallow, Co Cork, at the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee yesterday. Photo: Macmonagle, Killarney

Ms O'Connell denies a charge of careless driving causing the death of Caitlin, from Sli na gCrann, Gouldshill, Mallow, Co Cork.

Day one of the trial heard how the car was on its way from Mallow to Castleisland in Co Kerry when the crash happened.

The prosecution alleged that as the car approached a left-hand bend, it crossed a continuous white line, mounted a ditch and went into a field lower than the road.

"Ms Taylor was thrown from the vehicle and sustained fatal injuries at the scene," the prosecution said.

The car had sustained damage to its front, roof, rear and passenger side and the front and back windscreens were both absent, Garda Mary Linnane, from the divisional scenes of crime unit, said.

She agreed with the defence that the ditch mounted by the car was a low ditch, a grass mound.

Gda Linnane also agreed the car had been going slightly downhill, following the natural contour of the land.

Witness Peter Madden had been coming from Dingle and was on his way to Mallow on the warm June night.

He came across a girl in a state of distress on the side of the road and waving to him to stop.

Ms O'Connell was dressed in riding gear and riding boots.

She was on the phone to "a man" who turned out to be the emergency services, and she told him: "I was in a crash." She also said: "My friend is in the field."

Mr Madden went into the field where he found a car. He could only open the back door and was surprised to see an infant child sitting quietly in the child seat in the back.

He believed this was the "friend", but the young woman insisted her friend was still in the field.

Another witness, Marion Dennehy, said Ms O'Connell kept calling out for her "friend".

Ms Dennehy and her son Adrian were at the crashed vehicle with the baby, and everyone thought the baby was the friend, Ms Dennehy told Mr Rice.

Ms Dennehy's younger son Cian later joined them and in a statement read to the court said: "I glanced over and saw all the cows had gathered and I knew there must be something."

Cian had scattered the cattle, the jury was told. The girl was lying in the field, five to 10 metres in front of the car, the windscreen alongside her.

Ms Dennehy performed CPR on Caitlin until paramedics arrived. Paramedic Kenneth O'Sullivan arrived at the scene at 11.37pm. Ms Taylor had no pulse and was not breathing.

The trial presided over by Judge Thomas E O'Donnell continues.

Irish Independent

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