Wednesday 21 February 2018

Driver in fatal hit & run which killed 14-year-old went back to scene to talk to garda, inquest told

Ruadhan Tracey (33). Inset: Conor Hickey
Ruadhan Tracey (33). Inset: Conor Hickey

Gareth Naughton

The driver in a hit-and-run which caused the death of a 14-year-old boy returned and spoke to Gardaí before leaving the scene, an inquest heard.

Ruadhan Tracey claimed at Dublin Coroner's Court that he had the green light when he struck Conor Hickey from Saint Attracta Road in Cabra, Dublin 7, at a junction on Fassaugh Road on the evening of December 2, 2011. Conor suffered a fatal head injury and died the following day at Temple Street Children’s Hospital.

Ruadhan Tracey outside court. Photo: Collins Courts
Ruadhan Tracey outside court. Photo: Collins Courts

One of the witnesses to the accident Mary Fenlon, who was waiting at the junction behind another car, said Conor had the green light to cross the road and had just stepped onto it when a silver car “came out of nowhere” and struck him. The car was “definitely travelling at speed”, she said, and she heard a “really loud bang”.

“I don’t want to be hurtful to his Mam but the car just took him,” she said.

Read more here: Family face 'life sentence' but hit and run driver is given 20 months  

The silver car then “just drove on”.

Conor Hickey
Conor Hickey

Her brother-in-law John Blake who was driving their car said he had been keeping his eye on the road and the silver car appeared suddenly. “It must have been flying,” he said.

Neither witness saw the silver car’s brake lights activate.

Mr Blake said Conor “must have gone 15, 20 foot into the air, his runners flying off like a rag doll”. “He flew through the air,” he said.

Read more here: Hit-and-run sentence fuels anger  

The scene at St Eithne Road and Fassaugh Road in Cabra where the hit and run took place. Photo: Collins
The scene at St Eithne Road and Fassaugh Road in Cabra where the hit and run took place. Photo: Collins

He went over to him and another person was checking his vital signs. “He was coughing up blood. I was lying beside him. I had my hand on his back, I said a prayer for him,” he said.

Paramedics found vital signs, but Conor was in cardiac arrest when he arrived at Temple Street. He was kept alive on life support until the following day.

The post-mortem was carried out by state pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy who found he died from severe head injuries.

Read more here: No extra jail time for addict who mowed down schoolboy (14) 

In March last year Tracey pleaded guilty to careless driving causing Conor’s death, receiving a 20-month sentence.

He was brought from prison to court to give evidence. He told the coroner he was going no faster than 30 miles an hour and the lights were green for him to carry on through.

“Someone ran out in front of me and I hadn’t time to stop,” he said.

The inquest also heard from the deposition of his passenger Graham Lynch, read into the record in his absence, that they were on their way to buy drugs at the time. He told Gardaí he asked Tracey to stop after the accident. “He said: 'I can’t stop, I’ve no licence. I’m looking at long enough in jail as it is',” he said. They drove to a car park and inspected the damage to the car. Then they went back to the scene. “Ruadhan was worried and he wanted to see what was going on," he said, "He asked a Garda what was going on. The Gardaí said the road was closed until further notice… We walked back to the car".

Tracey was arrested while in custody at Cloverhill Prison the following month.

Read more here: Violent criminal won't serve extra jail time for hit & run death of Conor (14) 

Garda Edward Davin, forensic collision investigator, said the sequence on the pedestrian lights was “quick” giving drivers only three seconds to stop once a walker had pushed the button.

Ms Fenlon came back into the witness box to reiterate that Conor had the green light. She said she saw him press the button for the pedestrian light. He waited a few seconds before moving. Mr Blake also said Conor had the green light.

The jury found that Conor died as a result of the car being driven without due care and attention and recommended maintenance of the lights be addressed. 

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