Tuesday 20 March 2018

Manoeuvre by truck in fatal crash was 'dangerous' - garda

Stephen Kelly Photo: Collins Courts
Stephen Kelly Photo: Collins Courts

Tim Healy

A garda who inspected a truck involved in a collision in which a young man died told the High Court the manoeuvre the lorry was undertaking was dangerous.

Public service vehicle inspector Garda Jim Robinson also said lights on the 52ft truck trailer were not working as it straddled the entire width of the road. Graham Norris (25) died after his car struck the trailer at Ashtown Cross in Waterford on a dark October morning in 2005.

Reflective strips at the side were covered in mud and "filthy dirty", the garda said.

He was giving evidence in the second day of an action by the truck driver, Stephen Kelly (36), from the Rower, Kilkenny, against Sunday Newspapers, publishers of the 'Sunday World', over a July 2009 article which he says defamed him.

He says he was acquitted in 2007 by a Waterford Circuit Court jury of dangerous driving causing death and that the article meant, among other things, he had conducted himself in a manner at that trial which was false and misleading. Sunday Newspapers deny the claims and plead the words in the article were true.

Mr Kelly insisted under cross examination that all the lights on the trailer were working when he set out that morning. He also said while the side reflective strips were "a bit dirty", they were visible. He said while the manoeuvre he carried out was difficult, it was not dangerous.

Garda Robinson said in his examination of the trailer, he found it was covered in mud. A rear guard rail, to prevent cars going under a truck, was set too high.

Asked by Oisín Quinn SC, for the 'Sunday World', if it was possible, as had been suggested by Mr Kelly, that the middle light on the side of the trailer was damaged in the collision, Garda Robinson said no because the light was some 18 feet from the point where the car hit the trailer. He also said that rear lights on the trailer were not working. There was also no rear number plate light or reflective "long vehicle" sign at the back.

In a reconstruction at the scene of the accident, in which Mr Kelly drove the vehicle again with the road closed by gardaí, he took 28 seconds to complete the same manoeuvre.

Asked by Mr Quinn about whether this was dangerous, Garda Robinson said it was very dangerous because he had to go completely onto the wrong side of the road to make the turn into the narrow laneway that led to a woodland Mr Kelly was driving to that day.

Had the protective bar at the rear been low enough, Mr Norris's car would have bounced off the trailer, but instead it cut the roof of his car clear off.

The case, which is before a judge and jury, continues on Tuesday.

Irish Independent

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