Athy crash car had deflated tyre before impact, court hears

Four died in ‘tragic accident’ not caused by driver, says defence lawyer

Dayna Kearney,  from Crossneen, Co Carlow,  at Naas Circuit Criminal Court, where her trial continues. Photograph:  Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Dayna Kearney, from Crossneen, Co Carlow, at Naas Circuit Criminal Court, where her trial continues. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin


One of the wheels of a car that was involved in a fatal collision claiming the lives of four women was flat at the time of impact, a trial has heard.

Garda Tony O’Halloran, Public Service Vehicle Inspector, also described the tyre on the defendant’s Volkswagen Polo as of “poor overall quality” due to poor maintenance and under-inflation.

The car’s passenger side tyre was also under-inflated by over 50 per cent when examined by Garda O’Halloran the day after the collision which claimed the lives of Gemma Nolan (19), Chermaine Carroll (20) and Niamh Doyle (19), all from Carlow, and Aisling Middleton (19) from Athy.

The evidence emerged in Naas Circuit Criminal Court in the case of 23-year-old Dayna Kearney from Crossneen, Carlow who denies dangerous driving causing death and knowingly driving a defective vehicle.

Ms Kearney, an unaccompanied provisional licence holder at the time of the crash, was the driver of a car carrying her four friends that collided with an oncoming van on the N78, Burton, Athy on the night of January 6th, 2015.

Slow puncture

Garda O’Halloran said the flat tyre, which was on the rear driver’s side, had a slow puncture that had not been caused in the accident. He believed the deflated tyres had led to a loss of stability in the wheels and direction in the car.

It caused the car to yaw and turn right into the wrong lane colliding with the front of the van on the passenger side.

In cross examination, the court was told other aspects of the car had been in good condition prior to the accident including brakes and steering.

In cross examination by defence counsel Roderick O’Hanlon SC, Garda Monaghan accepted that cat’s eyes at the scene were 35mm above the road surface, in contrast to the EU guidelines of 18-25mm.

He accepted this was significant.

The court had previously heard that gardaí­ could not find any road marks indicating an impact between the cat’s eye and the tyre.

‘Inexperienced’ driver

In final arguments, prosecuting counsel Dan Boland described Ms Kearney as an “inexperienced driver” who was unable to control the car.

“Everyone has a duty to drive a car with properly inflated tyres,” he said.

“Here we have an inexperienced driver on a provisional licence driving with a full load. When the car started to veer she was not able to control it and the car went onto the incorrect side of the road with a very sad and tragic outcome for everyone involved.”

Mr O’Hanlon said what had occurred was a tragic road traffic accident.

“It’s not a question of anything about the way she was driving. It was because of a danger that was created during the journey.”

Mr O’Hanlon said it was “absolutely clear” the car had been in good working order.

Presiding Judge Eoin Garavan will charge the jury of seven women and five men on Thursday morning before deliberation commences.