A CHARGE of dangerous driving was reduced to careless driving at Gorey District Court against Richard Harmon (63), of Crossneen, Carlow.
He crashed into the back of a car driven by Mary Creane of Crossabeg while she was turning into Garry's service station on the N11 outside Oylegate on June 30 2014.
He was overtaking a lorry at the time, and didn't realise until it was too late that it was pulling into the hard shoulder to get past Mrs Creane's car which had stopped to turn right. CCTV footage showed that she began her manoeuvre when he hit her.
Mrs Creane didn't believe she had begun her turn and said she was checking her mirrors before turning. She was knocked unconscious and suffered a bad gash to the side of her head.
After a contested case, Inspector Pat Cody put it to the judge that it was a dangerous overtake. 'What was he doing on the wrong side of the road?' he said. 'There was no need to be involved in a collision.'
The defendant's solicitor contended that the onus is on a driver when turning, to make sure a vehicle isn't in an overtaking position.
Judge Haughton felt that if the lorry had time to get into the hard shoulder, then the defendant had time, and he said there is a case to answer.
Richard Harmon told the court he was moving up alongside the lorry when it started to move in, and he did everything he could to avoid the collision. He estimated he was doing 100km/h as the lorry was travelling at 80 km/h.
'There was nothing in the road,' he said. 'There wasn't even a crow there.'
Inspector Cody pointed out that the footage showed he wasn't alongside the lorry when it moved in. 'The key to overtaking is what's in front of you and what's coming against you,' he said. 'I don't think you took full view of what was in front of you. You hadn't got a clear overtake.'
'In my view, it was an unfortunate accident. I've never had a summons in my life,' said the defendant.
'I'm not here to sully your character,' replied the Inspector. 'I'm saying you made a mistake.'
Judge Haughton was satisfied the defendant didn't keep a proper look out and that he didn't see the Nissan Micra.
'I think he was guilty of misjudgement and didn't see the Micra until it was too late,' he said. 'This was a serious misjudgement as opposed to a reckless misjudgement.' He reduced the dangerous driving charge to careless driving and fined him €400.