Thursday 19 September 2019

Deliberations begin in trial of garda charged with dangerous driving causing death while on duty

Garda Warren Farrell (35), who is based in Clondalkin, Co Dublin, arrives at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where he is accused of dangerous driving causing the death of a woman four years ago. Pic Collins Courts.
Garda Warren Farrell (35), who is based in Clondalkin, Co Dublin, arrives at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court where he is accused of dangerous driving causing the death of a woman four years ago. Pic Collins Courts.

Declan Brennan

A jury has begun deliberations in the trial of a serving garda charged with dangerous driving causing the death of an elderly pedestrian four years ago.

Warren Farrell (35), a garda serving in Clondalkin, Co Dublin, was on duty as the driver of a marked patrol car that was responding to a panic button call at a Topaz garage, when the car struck Elizabeth Core.

Garda Farrell has pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of the 75-year-old at Fonthill Road South, Dublin, on August 28, 2014.

This afternoon Judge Cormac Quinn told the jury that they could convict the defendant on a charge of dangerous driving causing death or of careless driving causing death. He said they must reach a unanimous decision of guilty or not guilty.

On day six of the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court the jury spent an hour deliberating before going home for the night.

In his closing speech James Dwyer SC, prosecuting, told the jury that Gda Farrell made an assumption that Mrs Core was aware of the garda patrol car which the State contend was travelling at around 56 to 58 kmh on a road with a 50 kmh speed limit.

He said that Gda Farrell had a clear view of the pedestrian from 200m before the point of collision but that heavy braking only began at 10 to 13m before this point.

“Having seen her he decided to continue to drive at the same speed. We have 187m to 190m of driving before hard braking takes place.

“Having seen her in the road, he didn't decide to ease off. His failure to slow down, or to stop, or to drive at a speed which allowed him to react, is dangerous driving by any standard,” he said.

He said the jury can also come to a verdict of careless driving.

Closing the defence case Patrick McGrath SC told the jury that this was a terrible tragedy but that no crime was committed.

“There are many situations where a tragedy occurs and no-one is at fault,” he said.

He said this was a case where somebody made an honest and what they believed at the time to be a reasonable decision, which turns out to have consequences which they never intended and never foresaw.

He urged the jurors to look at the decision making process of a man who is being asked to respond to an incident as quickly as possible.

He told them that the State's own forensic expert concluded that Gda Farrell believed that Mrs Core would not continue crossing the road and he was surprised when she did.

The evidence was this cost in the order of 2 to 2.5 seconds before he began braking and  reduced the distance available to him and reduced his ability to avoid the collision.

“You cannot be satisfied that the decisions made were outside the range of decisions which a reasonable garda driver asked to respond to this emerging and potentially dangerous situation would make.

“He went out to do this duty. He no doubt regrets every single day of his life what happened that day,” Mr McGrath said. The trial continues.

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