Passenger in car containing half-empty wine bottles sues over injuries from road incident

Crash at entrance to Clearwater Shopping Centre in July 2015 involved 16½-year-old driver who was uninsured

A Garda road closure close to the scene near Aclint Bridge in Ardee, Co Louth, after three women were killed and two men seriously injured in a road accident involving three cars. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 21, 2017. Gardai said one woman, aged 39, was driving one of the cars, and the two other women, aged 69 and 37, were passengers. See PA story ACCIDENT Deaths Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A garda who arrived on the scene of the crash told the court there had been an earlier call of a car driving erratically on the Finglas Road. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

A man has sued in the High Court over injuries allegedly received in a crash in which the car he was a passenger in was found with six or seven half-empty and empty wine bottles.

John Joyce (45), The Maples, Flemington, Balrath, Co Meath, sued the driver of the car Bernard Joyce, the car owner James Joyce, both of Dunsink Lane, Finglas, Dublin, and the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) over the crash at the entrance to Clearwater Shopping Centre, Finglas Road, Dublin, on July 30th, 2015.

The driver was 16½ and uninsured. Judgment was entered against him and James Joyce in default of appearance.

The case proceeded against the MIBI, which compensates victims of uninsured or untraced drivers, which denies liability for the claim.


Mr Joyce was knocked unconscious in the crash and could not remember anything about it until he was told when he woke up in hospital, the court heard.

He had no memory of wine bottles in the car or of the driver jumping out of the car when it hit a barrier at the entrance to Clearwater and running into the nearby Tesco where he grabbed a bottle of wine and started drinking it.

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Mr Joyce, an unemployed father-of-three, told his senior counsel, Richard McDonnell, instructed by Spellman Callaghan Solicitors, that he had been playing cards at his cousin’s home in Finglas the night before the inncident and had drunk about 12 bottles of beer along with shots of vodka.

They finished at about 3am, he said, and he had four or five hours sleep before he went onto the Ratoath Road and tried to flag down a taxi to get home.

While he was doing so, a car driven by Bernard Joyce pulled up and offered to take him part of the way home. His first recollection of what happened was when he woke up in hospital, he said.

He did not know Bernard Joyce well but knew him from the fact that they were both members of the Traveller community and he lived in Finglas before moving to Meath.

Under cross examination by Rónán Dolan SC, instructed by Joe MacKenzie, solicitor for the MIBI, he denied he had been in the car with Bernard driving around from about 3am until the crash happened around 8.30am.

He said there was no drinking in the car and he had no recollection of the wine bottles which were found by gardaí in the car.

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He had no recollection of the driving or of Bernard running into Tesco to grab a bottle of wine before the gardaí arrived and arrested him when he refused to give a sample.

He said he was on a lot of medication in 2018 when he was interviewed for the case on behalf of the MIBI and when he said he was picked up by a car driven by a stranger and the only description he gave was that he was “a lad”.

Asked if he had a concern that Bernard was not insured as he was 16½ and could not be licensed to drive, he said he “looked fine to me”. He also said Bernard “had a beard”.

John Joyce also said he had 74 previous convictions for motoring and theft offences but said the thefts were over small sums of money.

A garda who arrived on the scene of the crash told the court there had been an earlier call of a car driving erratically on the Finglas Road.

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Bernard Joyce had run into Tesco in Clearwater and CCTV showed him taking a bottle of wine and removing a top he had been wearing. He looked 16 and did not have a beard, the officer said.

In the crashed car, the passenger was unconscious and there were maybe six or seven empty or half-empty bottles of wine, he said.

Ms Justice Denise Brett said she would give her decision on Friday.