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Luas driver wept when CCTV showed him drive through a 'stop' signal

A REFLECTION on a traffic signal may have caused a Luas driver to crash into a Dublin bus on O'Connell Street, the tram driver's defence team has suggested.

Hugh Hartnett, defending Oriyomi Emmanuel (39), presented evidence that a cover above the Luas traffic signal made it more difficult to read as the tram got closer to it.

Emmanuel was visibly upset during Tuesday's evidence and wiped away tears as the CCTV footage of the crash was replayed.

Mr Hartnett said the accused was "extraordinarily proud" of his job, had an immaculate safety record and was very popular with his colleagues.

The accused told interviewing gardai he had given up a marriage to get the job and also quit smoking and drinking. He added that it was very difficult for a black man to get such a job.

Mr Hartnett pointed to an internal report on the incident by Luas operator Veolia Transport which states that a nearby electrical pole could have cast a vertical reflection on the signal.

The trial has already heard a vertical line is the signal for the tram to proceed.

The after-accident report also recommended the consideration of a second "repeater" signal at the other end of the junction. This would give the tram driver a second chance to see the stop signal.

The jury heard that whenEmmanuel was arrested and interviewed he insisted he had a "proceed signal" when he drove forward. He then broke down crying in interview when he was shown that the CCTV footage showed a stop signal.







Dragged

Emmanuel, of Jamestown Park, Ratoath, Co Meath, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the unsafe operation of a tram at the junction of Middle Abbey Street and O'Connell Street on September 16, 2009.

He told interviewing gardai that when he drove the tram forward he saw a "yellow flash" and then the bus "brushed me and dragged me along". Emmanuel said he thought he was dead and that a garda who came to his aid was an angel.

Sergeant John Reynolds, a forensic crash investigator, said that he carried out an examination of the crash scene.

He agreed with Mr Hartnett that he has no specific training in rail accidents and that he had not read Veolia's report on the incident.

"You must be joking," counsel said. Sgt Reynolds's agreed that the report could have been useful. The sergeant said there was a "cowl" above the Luas signal and that this could have cast a shadow over it. He agreed that this shadow would have become worse as the tram passed over the stop line and towards the junction. The trial continues

hnews@herald.ie


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