Man refused to call hit-and-run suspect son over fears gardaí would listen in

Dan Joe Fitzgerald (72) denies impeding apprehension and prosecution of Shane Fitzgerald

A 72-year-old man refused a garda request to phone his son who was suspected of involvement in a fatal hit and run because he believed gardaí would listen in to the conversation, a trial has heard.

Dan Joe Fitzgerald was asked by gardaí to contact Shane Fitzgerald in the UK to find out the location of his grey Toyota Landcruiser which they suspected may have been involved in an incident which killed Paud O'Leary (42).

Dan Joe Fitzgerald, of Knockeen, Knockduff, Meelin, Co Cork, denies a charge that between July 1st and July 13th 2012 he did an act or acts with the intention of impeding the apprehension or prosecution of Shane Fitzgerald for dangerous driving causing the death of Mr O'Leary.

Mr O'Leary, a father of four from Gneeveguilla, Co Kerry, was fatally injured when he was struck while out on a training cycle near his home at 5am on July 1st, 2012.


On March 20th, 2015, Shane Fitzgerald, then 23, was convicted and jailed for five years for dangerous driving causing his death.

Opening the prosecution case against Dan Joe Fitzgerald, Siobhán Lankford BL told the jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court it was "a slightly unusual case" in which the State was seeking to prove the accused impeded the apprehension or prosecution of his son.

She said Shane Fitzgerald left the State very soon after the incident and went first to the UK and then Australia. She said the State would allege his ferry fare to the UK, his subsequent application for a visa to Australia and his air fare to Australia were all paid for with his father's credit card.

Insp Fergal Foley said gardaí found debris near where Mr O'Leary was killed which they identified as coming from a grey Toyota Landcruiser. They were able to identify, trace and locate 408 of the 409 such Toyota Landcruisers registered in Cork, Kerry and Limerick areas, he said.

The 409th vehicle, which they were unable to locate, belonged to Shane Fitzgerald, who was arrested three years later at Heathrow Airport while preparing to fly back to Australia, Insp Foley said.

Det Garda Pádraig Reddington said he met Dan Joe Fitzgerald on July 5th, 2012 and he told him that his son had been in the UK since June 30th. He said he was not sure which vehicle he had taken to the UK - either the Toyota Landcruiser or a VW Passat.

Det Garda Reddington also met Shane Fitzgerald’s mother, Noreen O’Donovan, who told him Shane had left for the UK on July 2nd or July 3rd.

Sgt Paul Ahern said he called to Dan Joe Fitzgerald on July 12th and his purpose was to get him to contact his son to find out where the Toyota Landcruiser was.

Dan Joe Fitzgerald said he would not ring his son in his presence but would ring him at a time of his own choosing as the call would usually go to voicemail and his son would ring him back. Sgt Ahern gave him his personal number to contact him after he spoke to his son.

Sgt Ahern phoned Dan Joe Fitzgerald on July 14th and 15th and was told Dan Joe Fitzgerald had not called his son as he believed gardaí would listen in on the phone call.

Sgt Ahern called to Dan Joe Fitzgerald's machinery scrappage yard in Ballydesmond on July 16th to say he believed his son was a suspect.

Dan Joe Fitzgerald told him he had no information on the Toytoa Landcruiser and he asked Sgt Ahern to leave his premises.

The case continues.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times