Man charged with causing death was advised not to drive, court hears

David Byrne (42) accused of dangerous driving causing death of Patricia Dunne (70)

David Byrne: prosecution alleges that when applying for a driving licence, he  failed to disclose his eye condition. Photograph:   Collins Courts.

David Byrne: prosecution alleges that when applying for a driving licence, he failed to disclose his eye condition. Photograph: Collins Courts.

 

A man charged with dangerous driving causing the death of a 70-year-old woman in Dublin had an eye condition and was advised not to drive, his trial has heard.

David Byrne (42) went on trial on Monday at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court charged with one count of dangerous driving causing the death of Patricia Dunne at Collins Avenue East in Killester on October 16th, 2015. He has pleaded not guilty.

Mr Byrne, with an address in Sunnyhill, Castlemartin Lodge, Kilcullen, Co Kildare, has also pleaded not guilty to one count of dishonestly inducing the National Driving Licence Service (NDLS) to issue him a driving licence on September 30, 2014.

He has further pleaded not guilty to one count of making a false or misleading statement in the course of taking out insurance on October 16th, 2015.

Fionnuala O’Sullivan, BL, prosecuting, told the jury of six men and six women they would hear evidence that Patricia Dunne was walking home pulling a shopping trolley around midday on the day in question when she went to cross the road.

‘Flung up in the air’

Ms O’Sullivan said that a van slowed to allow Ms Dunne to cross, but a car driven by Mr Byrne hit her and she was “flung up in the air” before the car came to a stop.

A number of Killester College students and an off-duty fire officer came to Ms Dunne’s aid. She was conscious and able to give her name before she was taken to hospital by ambulance, the court heard. She later died in hospital.

Gardaí ­ also arrived at the scene and met with Mr Byrne who appeared to be “in deep shock”, Ms O’Sullivan said.

She told the jury that while this was a dangerous driving case, it was not a case where speed was involved, or in which traffic signals were disobeyed. Nor was it a case involving drink, Ms O’Sullivan said.

“The circumstances we say make this driving dangerous arise out of a medical condition we say the accused had and which we say he knew about,” she said.

She said it was the prosecution case that Mr Byrne suffers from Usher Syndrome Type 2, a condition which causes difficulty seeing in low light and loss of peripheral vision.

“It’s also the prosecution case that as far back as 1997, he was advised by a doctor that he should not be driving,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

“For Mr Byrne to drive with that condition was driving in a manner which was or likely to be a danger to the public. That dangerous driving caused the death of Ms Dunne.”

The prosecution alleges that when applying for a driving licence, Mr Byrne failed to disclose this condition. He also allegedly failed to inform his insurance company, the court heard.

Ms O’Sullivan told the jury that most people drive and everyone is a pedestrian. As a result, “It is easy to think, there but for the grace of God go I,” she said.

But she said the jury must “leave sympathy at the door”.

“You will have to be clinical, cold, dispassionate,” she said.

The trial continues before Judge Patricia Ryan.