A GARDA accused of causing the crash which claimed the life of a young motorcyclist almost four years ago was acquitted yesterday.
Garda Trevor Owens (31), who is based at Kells garda station, Co Meath, had pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Gary Tully at Commons of Lloyd on the Cavan to Kells (N3) road, near Kells, on August 16, 2008.
Mr Tully (21), of Silverlawns, Navan, was catapulted into the air following the crash and died later in hospital.
Trim Circuit Court heard that, following heavy rain earlier on the day of the crash, there was flooding on either side of the road but the main carriageway was clear.
Garda Owens told an investigator from the Garda Ombudsman Commission that at the time he had been on his way to set up a checkpoint after receiving reports of a speeding motorcycle heading towards Kells.
The defendant said he had seen a motorbike approaching at grossly excessive speeds and overtaking a number of vehicles.
"I saw the motorbike coming round a sweeping bend and overtaking one vehicle, there was an extra vehicle in front of it and another behind," Garda Owens said in his statement
He said the bike and patrol car were on a direct collision course. Both were closing fast and the garda said he braked and steered to the right but was struck by the motorbike near the centre of the road.
A number of witnesses had told the court that the motorbike had been overtaking traffic at high speed shortly before it collided with an oncoming patrol car.
Two prosecution witnesses disagreed over the cause of the fatal collision.
Derek McInerney told the court he was also overtaken by the motorbike and he could see the squad car coming in the opposite direction. However, he claimed the garda car had suddenly cut across the centre of the road in the path of the oncoming bike.
Meanwhile, Margaret Anderson, who had been travelling behind Garda Owens's patrol car, told the jury that a 'black blob' appeared out of nowhere in the distance which turned out to be a motorbike coming towards them on the wrong side of the road. She said that it appeared to her that the defendant had tried to get the patrol car out of the way by pulling to the other side of the road.
After two weeks of evidence the defence requested Judge Margaret Heneghan to direct the jury to return a not guilty verdict. Following legal argument the judge granted the request, ruling there had been a conflict in the evidence given by a number of the prosecution witnesses which a jury could not be expected to resolve.