Saturday 23 March 2019

Garda who caused death of pedestrian (75) through careless driving on way to incident expresses remorse, court hears

Warren Farrell at Dublin Circuit Criminal
Pic Collins Courts
Warren Farrell at Dublin Circuit Criminal Pic Collins Courts

Aoife Nic Ardghail

A garda who caused the death of a 75-year-old pedestrian through careless driving wished to personally express his remorse to her family, a court has heard.

Warren Farrell (33), a garda serving in Ballyfermot, Co Dublin, was driving a marked patrol car in response to an incident at a Topaz garage when his vehicle struck Elizabeth Core.

Thomas Core, Mrs Core's son, described his mother as “a singer and a dancer and always the life and soul of family gatherings”.

Reading from his victim impact statement, he said his mother had been fit and healthy for her age and had many more years of her life left.

He said his father's health deteriorated after his mother's death and he passed away “almost two years to the day she died”.

Today, Detective Superintendent Colm O'Malley offered “sincere condolences” to the Core family for their tragic loss on behalf of Gda Farrell and An Garda Síochána.

He agreed with Patrick McGrath SC, defending, that Gda Farrell had always wished to extend his condolences personally, but that it would not have been appropriate while the court case was ongoing.

He outlined how Gda Farrell has since created and managed a specialist CCTV unit and has provided critical evidence in securing convictions against serious criminals. He said Gda Farrell had also been nominated for the Scott Medal for bravery for facing down raiders carrying guns, while unarmed, with his colleague and without backup.

Gda Farrell had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving causing the death of Mrs Core at Fonthill Road South, Dublin, on August 28, 2014.

A jury convicted Gda Farrell by majority verdict after a trial last December on an alternative charge of careless driving causing death.

Judge Cormac Quinn had advised the jurors they could convict on this alternative charge.

James Butler, an investigator with the Garda Síochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), described how Gda Farrell's car collided with Mrs Core.

He said Gda Farrell told GSOC he had been satisfied before collision that his car's blue flashing lights and sirens would have alerted Mrs Core and she would have remained on her side of the road.

Mr Butler told James Dwyer SC, prosecuting, that Gda Farrell said he continued driving at the same speed as a result.

Mr Butler said the Director of Public Prosecutions had rejected an offer of a guilty plea on careless driving causing death and the matter went to trial.

He agreed with Mr McGrath that Gda Farrell had taken evasive action before the collision, but his vehicle's tyre burst and he was unable to mount a footpath to avoid impact.

Mr McGrath submitted to Judge Quinn that there exists a “tension” from expecting unarmed gardaí to get to an incident as soon as possible and in a manner that does not pose risk to public safety.

He said his client did not sit on his laurels in the years since but took up an alternative career, developed an “invaluable” skill set and is active in a new and increasingly important area of work.

He asked Judge Quinn to consider the careless driving in this case as at the lowest end of the scale.

He added that Gda Farrell, as a token of remorse, would make a contribution to any charity nominated by the Core family if they wished.

Judge Quinn told the court he needed time to consider the evidence and testimonials handed to him on Gda Farrell's behalf and adjourned the case until March 12. He added that the Core family would need time to consider their response to the offered charity contribution.

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