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Saturday 18 January 2020

Garda in fatal crash fined €900 over traffic offences

David Raleigh

A garda who accidentally hit and killed two men while driving home from work was fined yesterday for having no road tax and no licence when the crash occurred.

Garda Enda Clifford (34), who pleaded guilty to the offences, also admitted driving with two bald tyres, failing to display a road tax certificate and failing to produce a valid driver's licence.

He was fined a total of €900 at Limerick District Court.

The court heard that the tyre tread on one of the wheels of the garda's car was "quite bald and excessively worn" while another was "worn to the extent that the plier chord was exposed".

A seventh charge relating to a third tyre was struck out.

The officer -- who the court was told was a member of the Garda Traffic Corps -- was driving home from work with a female colleague shortly before midnight on January 12, 2011, when his car hit two men on the M20 motorway on the outskirts of Limerick city near Dooradoyle.

Both men were "on the ground in the middle of the motorway" when he hit them, Limerick state solicitor Michael Murray said. Mark Farrell (23) and Gavin O'Callaghan (20) -- both from Cork city -- were killed instantly.

The full circumstances of the fatal accident are not known, but it's understood it happened on an unlit section of the motorway and that the victims may have been involved in an argument at the time.

Dan O'Gorman, representing Gda Clifford, said his client had "no criminal culpability" in respect of the "dreadfully tragic accident".

Mr Murray said the State "accepted there was no complaint in the manner of Gda Clifford's driving".

Gda Clifford, from Dromin Heights, Milltown, Co Kerry, and with an address in Dooradoyle, Limerick, is based at Henry Street garda station in Limerick.

The DPP brought the case against him after it received a file from the Garda Ombudsman Commission.

'Offences'

A number of investigators from the commission were present in court for the hearing.

Mr O'Gorman said the offences before the court were "fairly minor road traffic offences, that are dealt with every day by the district court".

The court heard the defendant "had been on late duty" for a number of days prior to the accident and had attempted to replace the bald tyres on his car and had "sought out" a tyre dealer.

Mr O'Gorman said his client "apologises" and had already been subjected to "intensive examination" by the commission investigation. Judge Timothy Lucey said: "This is obviously a tragedy here and these things will happen. There were no driving charges brought (against the garda)."

Irish Independent

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