Man’s claim dismissed over crash in car containing several empty wine bottles

John Joyce (45) sued the driver of the car, the owner of the car and the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI)

The case proceeded against the MIBI, which compensates victims of uninsured or untraced drivers, which denied liability for the claim. Photograph: Bryan O'Brien

A man has lost a High Court claim against the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland (MIBI) over injuries he claimed he received in an accident in which the car he was a passenger in was found with six or seven half-empty and empty wine bottles after the crash.

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 MIBI over the accident at the entrance to Clearwater Shopping Centre, Finglas Road, Dublin, on July 30th, 2015.

The driver was 16-and-a-half 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 denied liability for the claim.


On Friday, Ms Justice Denise Brett dismissed the claim against the MIBI.

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

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.

Mr Joyce, an unemployed father of three, told the court he had been playing cards at his cousin’s home in Finglas the night before the accident and had drunk about 12 bottles of beer along with some shots of vodka.

They finished around 3am and he said he had four or five hours sleep before left 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.

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 accident happened around 8.30am.

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.

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.

He did not know Bernard Joyce was 16-and-a-half and that it was illegal for him to drive. He said he “looked fine to me” and also “had a beard”.

A garda told the court that when arrested after the crash Bernard Joyce looked 16 and did not have a beard.

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

Dismissing the case, Ms Justice Brett said she did not accept Ms Joyce’s evidence that he was only in the car for a short period before the crash.

She also rejected his evidence in relation to the age of Bernard Joyce or that he had a beard.

John Joyce would have been well aware, from his own experience, of the need to have insurance, she said.

Overall, there were “too many contradictions” on his own accounts of what happened for the court to accept his version of how the accident happened. She dismissed the case and awarded costs to the MIBI.