Saturday 21 July 2018

Student denies dangerous driving in crash that killed her four friends 'almost instantly' - trial hears

Dayna Kearney
Dayna Kearney

Andrew Phelan

Four young women were killed “almost instantly” when the car their friend was driving swerved out of control and crashed passenger-side on into a van, a trial has heard.

Dayna Kearney (22) was herself seriously injured in the accident that happened when she was driving her four friends home in Co Kildare.

According to the prosecution, some of the Volkswagen Polo’s tyres were not correctly inflated and this, combined with the heavy load led to the crash.

Prosecutor Daniel Boland BL was delivering his opening address to the jury in the trial of Ms Kearney, who denies dangerous driving causing the death of her four friends.

Ms Kearney, a student from Crossneen, Carlow has also pleaded not guilty to knowingly driving a dangerously defective vehicle.

She went on trial before Judge Eoin Garavan and a jury of seven women and five men at Kildare Circuit Court in Naas today.

The accident happened on N78 Athy Link Road at Burtown, near Athy, on January 6, 2015.

Aisling Middleton (19) from Athy, Gemma Nolan (19), Chermaine Carroll (20) and Niamh Doyle (19), from Carlow, all died in the crash.

Mr Boland told the jury the case involved a fatal road traffic accident that happened at 9.45pm on the N78 at Burtown in Athy.

It was an almost new road, it was a reasonable straight stretch and had a good surface, he said. The weather conditions were good, with no frost or rain and no speed was involved with either of the vehicles.

The accused was travelling from the Waterford motorway and had four girls as passengers, Mr Boland said.

Travelling in the opposite direction was a white transporter van with a driver and passenger, both of whom were Polish.

At some point as the two vehicles approached each other, Ms Kearney’s car “seemed to swerve and veer over to the wrong side of the road and crash, passenger side on” into the van.

“Unfortunately, the four passengers in the car were killed almost instantly,” Mr Boland said.

Ms Kearney herself was badly injured in the accident.

Gardai arrived at the scene and took measurements. Four months later, Ms Kearney made a statement but had very little recollection of the accident.

She had been on a provisional driving licence at the time.

It was the prosecution’s case that although the car she was driving was in sound mechanical condition and the tyres all had good tread, “some were not at the correct inflated level” and this combined with the heavy load in the car caused it to swerve and “she was unable to control it, and that led to the fatal accident.”

The jury retired for lunch, with evidence expected to be heard in the afternoon.

Earlier, Ms Kearney, dressed in a black dress and leggings, came forward in court when her name was called and the charges were read out to her. She stood holding her hands in front of her.

“Not guilty”, she replied to the charges.

The judge warned the jury not to carry out any internet research, saying that any information out there “isn’t tested and doesn’t form any of the evidence contained in these four walls.”

“It’s superfluous and ultimately dangerous,” he said.

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