Inquest hears contradictory evidence into death of boy (2) at halting site

Forensic investigator says it was difficult to determine how collision occurred

  Forensic collision investigator, Garda Cliff Harding pictured leaving Dublin City Coroner’s Court. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

Forensic collision investigator, Garda Cliff Harding pictured leaving Dublin City Coroner’s Court. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin

 

An inquest into the death of a two-year-old boy who was killed after being struck by a vehicle at a halting site in Co Wicklow three years ago has heard contradictory evidence from eyewitnesses about how the fatal incident occurred.

Bernard John Cash died as result of injuries he suffered when hit by a Toyota Corolla at the Silverbridge halting site off the N11 in Brayon July 17th, 2018.

An inquest at Dublin Coroner’s Court on Tuesday heard evidence from the boy’s mother, Bernadette Cash, that he had been struck by the front bumper of a vehicle driven by James Moorehouse before being driven over by a front and rear wheel.

However, Mr Moorehouse claimed he had been reversing his car out of a space between his house and a horsebox on the halting site when the collision happened.

Mr Moorehouse said he heard a “bump” as he was reversing and stopped immediately when he heard someone screaming.

The inquest heard Mr Moorehouse had driven the boy and his mother to Loughlinstown hospital as they did not want to wait for an ambulance.

Inconsistencies

The coroner, Dr Crona Gallagher, acknowledged there were inconsistencies in the eyewitness testimony which could not be resolved.

A forensic collision investigator, Garda Cliff Harding, said it was difficult to determine exactly how the fatal collision had occurred but it most likely happened during some reversing manoeuvre around a corner.

Garda Harding said the vehicle would have struck the boy at low speed but it was difficult to state exactly what part of the car had initially made contact with the victim.

Garda Paddy Beere informed the inquest that two files on the case in relation to the child’s death and the issue of intoxication had been forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions who had directed there should be no prosecution due to insufficient evidence.

He said the location of the incident at the halting site was not a public road, while a view was taken that it was not in the public interest to initiate a prosecution as Mr Moorehouse had driven after the collision because he was trying to save a child’s life.

The evidence prompted a walkout from the hearing by the child’s father, Bernard Joyce, who was attending the inquest by video link and his uncle, John Joyce, who was in court.

However, Dr Gallagher stressed that as a coroner she was precluded from going into evidence about the result of toxicology tests on a motorist.

In a written statement, Ms Cash said her son had been pestering her just before the incident to go outside to feed some chickens.

Ms Cash, who did not attend the inquest, told gardaí that it looked like Bernard’s leg had been broken but he remained breathing.

As they were driving to hospital, Ms Cash said she initially thought her son’s neck was broken and she could see tyre marks on his face.

Mr Moorehouse claimed he had collapsed after the child had been passed to paramedics and he could not remember anything that happened subsequently.

The boy was transferred to Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin for treatment but was pronounced dead a short time later.

Dr Gallagher said a postmortem had established he died as a result of severe head injuries which were “unsurvivable”.

The coroner said he had also suffered fractures to his ribs which supported evidence that he was struck by a vehicle and driven over by a tyre.

Returning a verdict of accidental death, Dr Gallagher said she was satisfied that he had died as a result of injuries suffered in a low-speed collision, although she accepted the inquest was unable to examine the precise manner in which the incident had occurred.

Offering her condolences to his family, the coroner said there was “nothing more tragic than the death of a small, young child in this way”.