Wednesday 21 March 2018

Dream of being a dance teacher dashed by Garda car collision, court told

A WOMAN’S hopes of becoming a teacher of competitive freestyle disco dancing ended when she was injured in a traffic accident involving a garda car, the High Court heard.

Stacey Montgomery (22), a trainee hairdresser of Broadford Aveue, Ballinteer, Dublin, is suing the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform arising out of the accident in Dublin, on August 4, 2007.

Ms Montgomery was a front-seat passenger in a car driven by her mother, who was turning on to Bishop Street from Bride Street, when a car driven by Garda Eugene McCarthy, of the Traffic Division, collided with the driver's side of their vehicle.

Stacey Montgomery claims as a result of the accident she suffered neck and back injuries which prevented her from continuing as a freestyle disco dancer and, in particular, put and end to her hopes of becoming a teacher in this specialised dancing area.

The case opened on Tuesday when the court was told liability was not an issue and it was for assessment of damages only.

Following evidence from Ms Montgomery however, Geraldine Connolly SC, for the defendant, said they would be making an application later to have the case dismissed because of false and misleading testimony related to a failure to disclose she had been involved in another traffic accident in 2010.

Joseph Hogan SC, for Ms Montgomery, said it was wrong to portray his client as dishonest as they were arguing this accident was not relevant to the claim as her career in dancing had ended as a result of the 2007 accident.

Mr Justice Iarfhlaith O'Neill said he would only consider an application to dismiss when he has heard all the evidence.

The court heard Ms Montgomery started dancing at nine and had competed at national and world level disco dancing events, accumulating numerous trophies and certificates including 33 first places. Before the accident, her parents had bought her a timber-framed studio for their back garden where she practised regularly and used it to display her trophies.

Yesterday, Mr Justice O'Neill heard evidence from a number of witnesses on Ms Montgomery's behalf who said Stacey had, before the accident, expressed hopes and plans to go on to become a dance teacher.

Fiona McKittrick, a Belfast-based teacher of freestyle disco dancing, who also taught Stacey, said Stacey was in the top ten to 15 students out of thousands she had taught.

She said suggestions by the defence that Stacey had no idea of becoming a dance teacher and "concocted this story" after the accident were "complete lies." She "most definitely" wanted to become a teacher and had already been assisting her (McKittrick) in teaching, she said.

Put to her under cross examination that the defence would be calling one of the most "highly paid" dance teachers in the country that to say her income from teaching was just €3,600 per annum, Ms McKittrick said "then she is not doing it right at all.

"I don't know what type of classes she is teaching, but that is ridiculously low," Ms McKittrick said.

Alvin Healy, a promoter of freestyle dancing events, said Stacey had told him from the age of 12 or 13 that she wanted to pursue some kind of dancing career.

The hearing continues.

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News