Sunday 16 December 2018

Psychiatric patient allegedly grabbed steering wheel before head on fatal collision, court hears

Emma Kenneally of Templemore, Tipperary pictured leaving the Four Courts after the opening day of a High Court action for damages. Pic: Collins Courts
Emma Kenneally of Templemore, Tipperary pictured leaving the Four Courts after the opening day of a High Court action for damages. Pic: Collins Courts

Tim Healy

The driver of a car in a fatal head on collision blacked out when her passenger, a psychiatric patient, allegedly grabbed her steering wheel, the High Court heard.

The patient Sean Dillon, who was sitting in the front passenger seat of Elizabeth Dillon’s car, was later found not guilty by reason of insanity of the manslaughter of a couple travelling in another car that was hit in head on in the accident outside Kilkenny city.

Niall Fitzgibbon SC, for Ms Dillon, told the court his client will say she had no time to react when her car veered across the road and crashed in to teacher Emma Kenneally’s car.

Ms Kenneally’s father, Tom  (65) and her mother Angela (61) from outside Templemore, Co Tipperary were killed in the accident on August 24,2011.

Mr Fitzgibbon extended deepest sympathy to Ms Kenneally for what happened and “for all your losses.”

He said Ms Dillon will say her brother Sean, following a significant act of self harm, had been admitted to St Luke’s Hospital Kilkenny. He was diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.

Counsel said six days before the accident it was advised Mr Dillon be brought out for short trips. There had been a number of trips taken in the days before the accident.

Counsel said Ms Dillon will say her brother grabbed the steering wheel with both hands .

“She will say she screamed and blacked out,” counsel said.

Ms Kenneally, Barnae, Templemore, Co Tipperary has sued Elizabeth Dillon, of Bowsfield ,Killerigh,Tullow, Co Carlow, who was the owner and the driver of the other car.

She has also sued Sean Dillon and the HSE, the owners of St Luke's Hospital , Kilkenny where Mr Dillion was receiving treatment for a psychotic disorder.

She is also suing the Motor Insurers Bureau of ireland (MIBI) which compensates victims of uninsured driving. It is alleged that as Mr Dillon was in control of the car at the time of the accident, he was not insured.

It is claimed Ms Kenneally suffered injuries when Ms Dillon's car crossed onto its incorrect side of the road and collided with Ms Kenneally's car head on.

It is alleged Mr Dillon, who was at that time a psychiatric patient under the care of the HSE at St Luke's, allegedly had been allowed to leave the hospital to be driven home by his sister when it was unsafe to do so and that adequate assistance should have been provided to Ms Dillon to manage her brother.

The claims are denied.

The case before Mr Justice Anthony Barr continues next week.

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