Thursday 26 April 2018

Man whose conviction for careless driving was quashed faces a retrial

The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin
The Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin

Ruaidhrí Giblin

A man whose conviction for careless driving was quashed after doubts were raised about the jury's majority verdict, faces a retrial.

Brendan Hegarty, (51) from Bangor, Erris, Co Mayo, had stood trial on a charge of dangerous driving causing serious injury on the N59 at Quignalecka, Ballina on October 14, 2013.

A jury at Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court found Mr Hegarty not guilty of dangerous driving but guilty of careless driving causing serious injury. He was fined €5,000 and disqualified from driving for 12 months.

Hegarty sought to appeal his conviction on whether the necessary statutory procedures for majority jury verdicts were observed and counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Paul Reynold's BL, subsequently advised the Court of Appeal that the DPP would not be standing over the conviction.

Giving judgment on the DPP's application for a retrial today/yesterday(MONDAY), Mr Justice George Birmingham said there was sufficient doubt over the majority verdict such that the prosecution could not stand over the conviction. It was accordingly quashed.

Mr Justice Birmingham said that ordinarily where a conviction was quashed one would expect a retrial and that rule should apply in this case despite “quite an elaborate analysis of the facts” presented by Mr Hegarty's barrister, Michael Bowman SC.

Accordingly, Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Michael Peart and Mr Justice Garrett Sheehan, ordered a retrial.

The court heard that a near head-on collision took place involving a Volkswagen Transporter van, driven by Mr Hegarty and a Ford Transit van driven by another motorist.

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