Garda car cut across bike before crash, court told
A GARDA patrol car cut across an oncoming motorbike just before a fatal collision between the two vehicles, Trim Circuit Court heard yesterday.
The driver of the patrol car, Garda Trevor Owens (32), who is based at Kells Garda station, has pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Gary Tully at Commons of Lloyd, Kells on August 16th, 2008. Mr Tully, Silverlawns, Navan, who was 21 at the time, died at Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan, after the collision.
Derek McInerney told the court he had been travelling towards Kells on the Virginia-Kells road at about 6pm when he was overtaken by a motorbike. The road had been partially flooded after heavy rain.
He said he had been travelling at about 50-55mph (80-89km/h), and estimated the bike was travelling at 80-90mph.
The witness said the motorbike had been on the right-hand side near the centre of the road when it overtook and he could see the squad car coming in the opposite direction.
In reply to prosecuting counsel Carl Hanahoe, he said the motorbike was moving into the left lane when the Garda car “violently entered the same lane at an angle” while the two vehicles were about 20ft apart. He said he noticed the motorbike’s brake lights had not come on.
“The boy on the bike had no chance to stop. He hit the back of the Garda car and went up in the air and landed on the other side of the road. When the bike hit the left side of the Garda car the patrol car straightened up and was coming towards me. I hit the brakes, we were both skidding towards each other and just stopped about an inch from a collision,” said Mr McInerney.
He rejected a suggestion from defence barrister Roderick O’Hanlon SC that the only escape manoeuvre open to the garda was to move on to the other side of the road when he saw a motorbike coming towards him at speed on the wrong side of the road.
“From my view he wanted to stop the motorbike,” said the witness.
Mr McInerney said after the crash Garda Owens had gone over to Mr Tully and reassured him that help was on the way.
Earlier, Garda Brian McKenna gave evidence of being overtaken at speed by the motorcyclist on the Virginia-Kells road. The garda was on patrol in an unmarked car and he said he activated the siren and blue light, but the motorcyclist accelerated at speed.
The garda told the court he had given a lift to Claire Owens, the defendant’s wife, as she had been caught in floods that day.
Garda McKenna said he had seen the motorcyclist overtake a number of vehicles on the road before the crash and he had alerted Kells Garda station that the motorcycle was heading towards the town.
He said he had not been in hot pursuit as he had a civilian in the car and the bike continued on at speed. “He covered three miles while I had covered two,” said Garda McKenna.
The garda said when he arrived at the scene of the incident he found Garda Owens holding the injured man’s neck and trying to stop bleeding from a wound.
The trial before Judge Margaret Henahan and a jury of five men and seven women continues.