Tuesday 16 January 2018

Off-duty garda over speed limit in fatal crash, inquest is told

Georgina O'Halloran

A CAR driven by an-off duty garda that struck a 23-year-old man was travelling above the speed limit at the time of the incident, an inquest has heard.

Jack Whelan, of Beech Lodge, Kincora Grove, Clontarf, Dublin 3, was crossing Clontarf Road on April 12, 2009, after getting out of a taxi when he was hit by a car driven by Gda Aidan Morgan shortly before 6.30am.

Mr Whelan, who was returning home from a house party, died at the Mater Hospital of multiple injuries less than two hours later, an inquest heard yesterday.

Gda Tony Kelly told Dublin City Coroner's Court that the car driven by Mr Morgan was travelling at no less than 56kmh on a stretch of road where the speed limit was 50kmh.

But, referring to a number of different methods of calculation, Gda Kelly said the probable speed of the vehicle was between 65kmh and 67kmh and that the maximum speed was 75kmh.

Gda Morgan said he was travelling at around 50kmh.


The inquest heard the front left and right tyre threads of the 07 MO 2083 Volkswagen Jetta driven by Gda Morgan were worn below the legal limit.

Garda Michael Treacy, who examined the car, said one of the tyres was worn to such an extent that it was "dangerous".

Earlier he said it would only have an effect on the vehicle in wet conditions.

The morning in question was dry and bright.

The Garda Ombudsman Commission carried out a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the collision and a file was sent to the DPP. No prosecutions were directed.

Denise Neary -- who was in the taxi with Mr Whelan and a friend -- said he tapped on the back window of the car to say goodbye.

She then heard a "thud" and saw Jack, "come flying past her window".

"I saw Jack bounce off the ground and his shoes went flying down the road," she said.

Taxi driver Fujian Zhang told the inquest Mr Whelan, who sat in the front passenger seat, seemed very tired and that after a few minutes in the taxi he seemed to be resting with his eyes closed but he didn't know if he was sleeping.

A toxicology screening found Mr Whelan had 202 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in his system at the time.

Giving evidence, Gda Morgan, who was breathalysed and had a zero reading, said he was "unable to avoid the collision".

He was driving home when he observed a taxi parked in the bus lane and saw a man standing at the back left-hand corner of the car.

Mr Whelan stepped out in front of his car, without looking in his direction, Gda Morgan said, who added that he had slowed down.

"As he stepped out into my lane of traffic I sounded the horn and attempted to avoid the collision and swerved to my right," he said.

Questioned by Andrew Fitzpatrick, counsel for the Whelan family, Gda Morgan said he wouldn't think speed was a risk factor.

He denied he sounded he horn so late because he did not see Mr Whelan.

A jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure under the direction of coroner Dr Brian Farrell.

The coroner expressed his condolences to his parents Brian and Olivia, who were in court yesterday with their two sons Tom and Hugo and their daughter Jenny.

Irish Independent

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