Closing speeches made in trial over death of cyclist Paudie O’Leary

Shane Fitzgerald accused of dangerous driving causing death of father of four

Shane Fitzgerald (22), Newmarket, Co Cork is charged with dangerous driving causing the death of Paudie O’Leary (42) on July 1st, 2012. Photograph: Domnick Walsh

Shane Fitzgerald (22), Newmarket, Co Cork is charged with dangerous driving causing the death of Paudie O’Leary (42) on July 1st, 2012. Photograph: Domnick Walsh

 

Closing speeches have been heard in the trial of a 23-year-old man for dangerous driving causing the death of an early morning cyclist near Killarney almost three years ago.

Shane Fitzgerald of Meelin, Newmarket Co Cork has denied the charge of dangerous driving causing the death of father-of-four Paudie O’Leary aged 42 at Scrahanfadda, Gneeveguilla, Co Kerry on July 1st 2012.

The prosecution say Mr Fitzgerald, the owner of a grey Toyota Land Cruiser left the scene and had left the country a day later, going first to the UK and then to Australia.

The vehicle has never been found.

The dead man had set off shortly after 5 am and his body been found eight hours later alongside his damaged blue bicycle. He had been driven through a hedge onto an inside dyke.

Prosecutor Tom Rice, on the 13 day trial spanning four weeks, told the jury there was very strong circumstantial evidence. There were two issues — was the accused driving and was the driving dangerous?

Mr Rice said Shane Fitzgerald was driving after consuming a lot of alcohol, and the jury had seen this on CCTV footage.

“This man was driving a vehicle when he was unfit to do so,” Mr Rice said.

Shane Fitzgerald had lied to an Australian agent (who has given evidence at the trial) about how much he had drank and his route home, Mr Rice also said

Michael O’Higgins SC, for Mr Fitzgerald, said the jury was was being asked to set aside the presumption of innocence.

In the Cork-Kerry-Limerick area alone there were 409 Toyota Landcruisers of the grey colour owned by the accused man. Whilst CCTV had transformed the proseuction of offences in the past 20 years, it was not the be-all and end-all and should be treated with caution, Mr O’Higgins said.

An iPod had been found at the scene alongside Mr O’Leary and and Mr O’Higgins asked if it was a good idea to cycle while listening to music.

Judge Thomas E O’Donnell in his charge to the jury said the case was “ a desperate tragedy”.

“I’m sure you must have considerable sympathy for the family of the deceased and you may also have sympathy for the predicament in which the accused finds himself – but you must put such matters out of your mind and you must assess the evidence in a cold, clinical and dispassionate way as best you can,” Judge O’Donnell said.

The mere fact the accused lied is not evidence of guilt, the judge also warned.

The jury have been asked to return on Friday.