Wednesday 18 September 2019

We talk about him every day' - Heartbroken widow of cyclist killed in hit-and-run near home

Family raise concerns over delay in holding inquest

Devoted family man: Paud with his wife Margaret and their children Antoinette, Shannon, Ross and Paudie
Devoted family man: Paud with his wife Margaret and their children Antoinette, Shannon, Ross and Paudie

Sinead Kelleher

A HEARTBROKEN widow, whose cyclist husband was killed in a hit-and-run accident six years ago, has told an inquest into his death that the family are “devastated that he is not with us.”

Paud O’Leary (42), from Leam Gneeveguilla, was found dead less than half a mile from his home, after he was struck by a hit and run driver, while out training for the Ring of Kerry Charity Cycle.

On April 23, 2015 the driver was found guilty of dangerous driving causing death following the accident on July 1, 2012, the jury was told by Coroner for South and East Kerry, Aisling O’Sullivan Quilter.

At the inquest in Killarney this week, which returned a verdict of accidental death, Margaret O’Leary, criticised the delay into his inquest.

“It is quite difficult to dredge it up again. It’s terrible really. It’s six years on you have a lot of suffering done and you are back where you don’t want to be.

“We talk about him every day and we are devastated that he is not with us. It is terrible that he is not there to celebrate with us.”

Following the inquest, her solicitor Padraig O’Connell, said that the delay was “outrageous” and “unacceptable”

“There is a question mark as to why it took three years from the verdict to now. The Law Reform Commission should look into how these inquests should be dealt with in the future.”

He said that Mrs O’Leary is totally devastated by what happened and that she believes the defendant is “utterly callous to leave a man lying there without medical attention.”

He added that the jury should have returned should have included ‘dangerous driving’ like the Circuit Court trial.

Mr O’Leary was found by his brother-in-law Gerry O’Callaghan at Scrahan Fada, Gneeveguilla, after he and others began searching for Mr O’Leary when he failed to return home from his morning cycle.

Mr O’Callaghan and his wife noted debris on a line on the edge of the road and found him inside the edge down a deep dyke, about 3-4ft down, with his bike on top of him.

Mrs O’Leary told the inquest that she had to sit down in her sitting room and tell her children what happened “that a car had come along, hit Dad and drove away”.

She said that her husband was a “hard working family man”

Dr Hild, the SouthDoc Doctor, who attended the scene said that he was “struck by the distance the body was from the road” and that the debris and this “suggested a major impact” to him.

Garda James O’Brien’s deputation to the inquest said that severe abrasions and impact marks suggested that Mr O’Leary had been struck by a passing vehicle which was not at the scene.

He examined the debris at the scene and drew the conclusion that it came from a Japanese made vehicle, more than likely a Toyota metallic grey in colour and manufactured in the years 2003 -2011. He also said that he had formed the opinion that the jeep had been coming from the opposite direction to Mr O’Leary and had crossed into the incorrect lane to hit the pedal cyclist and that the driver would have been aware of the impact.

The post-mortem concluded that Mr O’Leary had died due to swelling of the brain and upper spinal cord damage and Jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

South Kerry Coroner Aisling Quilter, praised Garda for their exemplary work in identifying the vehicle from the bumper. This work was also praised by Mr O’Connell.

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