Mother not guilty of dangerous driving causing death of daughter

Kathleen O’Brien (4) died in crash on Cork to Limerick road in July 2013

A mother has been acquitted of dangerous driving causing death of her four-year-old daughter in a car crash two years ago by a jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

A mother has been acquitted of dangerous driving causing death of her four-year-old daughter in a car crash two years ago by a jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

 

A mother has been acquitted of dangerous driving causing death of her four-year-old daughter in a car crash two years ago.

Melissa Delaney (24), who is expecting her third child later this year, was found not guilty of dangerous driving causing the death of her eldest daughter, Kathleen O’Brien at Kilmona, Blarney, Co Cork on July 13th 2013.

Ms Delaney from Radharc na Fia, Convent Road, Doneraile, Co Cork was found not guilty by the jury on the direction of Judge Donagh McDonagh at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

Judge McDonagh ruled, after legal argument about one of the tyres on Ms Delaney’s van, that it would not be safe to allow the case continue and directed the defendant be found not guilty.

Ms Delaney was too upset to comment after her acquittal on the second day of the trial but her solicitor Kevin Hegarty said it been hugely traumatic for her and her entire family.

“Life has become very difficult for her. She finds it very hard to function,” said Mr Hegarty, confirming that Ms Delaney is expecting her third child in April.

“Now that the case is concluded, she and her husband hope they can rebuild their lives in some shape and that this can be a new beginning for them.”

Outlining the case against Ms Delaney, prosecution barrister Don McCarthy BL, said the fatal crash occurred on the main Cork to Limerick N20 road near the junction for Grenagh.

Sudden swerve

Mr McCarthy said it was the State’s case that the van was being driven at speed and as it suddenly swerved around a vehicle that was turning left, it mounted a roadside bank.

The State’s case was that as the van overturned twice, an object was seen to come from the van and it turned out to be the girl, who was fatally injured.

Witness Donal McCarthy told the court he was driving from Cork towards Mallow in his maroon Skoda Octavia about 4pm on the day when he indicated to turn off at the Grenagh junction.

“I was proceeding along the filter lane [when I] heard a screech of brakes from behind me. There was a white van coming....behind me,” he said.

Mr McCarthy said he initially feared there was going to be a collision so he attempted to speed up in order to avoid an impact when he saw a van travel past him on the inside

“The next thing I realised the van was inside me [heading towards] the grass verge,” he said.

The motorist said he watched as the van collided with the bank and suddenly lost control.

“It turned over, maybe it turned over two times or more. There was something thrown from the van. Something just flew right out of the van,” he said.

“I fairly quickly realised that it was a child. I got out of the car and I just froze. There were people coming from all directions,” he added.

Witness Tadhg Dorgan told how he was travelling from the Mallow direction with his mother Irene in the front seat of his car when he saw the collision happen.

“It was a lovely, hot, fabulous day. I could see a white van fairly in the distance driving erratically, veering from side to side, zig-zagging on the road,” said Mr Dorgan.

“I stopped and pulled in to the left-hand side. I could see cars swaying left and right to avoid it. I could see a maroon car and the van all of a sudden went inside it.

“The van went out of control and hit the embankment. There was a huge plume of dust. I then saw it turned twice in the air and appeared to end up on the slip road.

“During the rotation, I saw something fly in the air. I did not know until afterwards that unfortunately it was the child. We jumped out of the car and ran across the road.

“My mother ran to deal with the girl… It was a scene of devastation and hysteria,” Mr Dorgan told the jury of eight men and four women on the opening day of the trial.