A woman accused of careless driving causing death of an oncoming motorcyclist was found not guilty on Friday by direction of the judge.
Circuit Court Judge Thomas E O’Donnell told the six men and six women sworn in on Wednesday that the prosecution case was not strong enough. The jury had not begun its deliberations. The judge’s decision came after an application by the defence .
Driver of a year old Kia Rio car Kelly Ann Roantree (34) of Clounametig, Abbeydorney, denied the charge of careless driving causing the death of father- of-one Mark Shanahan, of Lixnaw and also of Ballymullen Tralee. The incident took place sometime after 6pm on July 14th , 2013 at Clounametig, Abbeydorney.
Ms Roantree had been returning home from food shopping in Tralee and crossing to her drive way .The State’s case was that she entered the path of the motorcyclist coming from Abbeydorney, the jury had been told on the opening day.
Defence barrister John O’Sullivan had made an application at the conclusion of the State case, Judge O’Donnell told the jury .
“I have given my decision and as a result of that will be asking you to enter a plea of not guilty,” Judge O’Donnell said.
He was not at liberty to tell the jury his reasons “other than on the basis of the strength of the prosecution case and the standard of proof that is required,” Judge O’Donnell said.
He also said the jury would want an explanation as to why it took so long getting the case to trial. The accident had occurred in July 2013 and it was now November 2017, he said.
This was because of legal issues which affected a number of other cases also arising from a conviction in the O'Shea case in Naas in 2013 which had gone to the court of appeal and then to the the Supreme Court, the judge said. The Supreme Court decision was given this year.
“Through no fault of anyone this case has had to await that outcome,” Judge O’Donnell said.
He thanked the jury for their attendance, excused them from jury service for a period of five years and confirmed with Tom Rice, prosecuiting, the order was Not guilty by direction of the trial judge.