Damages of €20,000 for prisoner who was knocked off bicycle

Thomas O’Neill, currently serving six year sentence, hit five years ago by car which failed to stop

Thomas O Neill  pictured leaving the Four Courts after a High Court action. Photograph: Collins Courts

Thomas O Neill pictured leaving the Four Courts after a High Court action. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A prisoner who claimed he suffered injuries after being knocked off his bicycle by a car which failed to stop has been awarded €20,000 damages by the High Court.

Mr Justice Michael Hanna said his impression of recovering drug addict Thomas O’Neill was that he was not lying and he did suffer injuries when he was struck by the car and ended up in a ditch in north Dublin almost five years ago.

O’Neill, currently serving a sentence at Midlands Prison, was living in Balrothery, Co Dublin at the time.

He had sued the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland as a result of the incident which happened on June 18th 2014 near Ballyheary Road, Swords, as he cycled home from a fishing trip.

It was claimed the driver who left the scene failed to keep an adequate lookout and failed to swerve to avoid the collision.

Mr O’Neill was knocked unconscious and sustained injuries including swelling on his right jaw and to his back and arm, it wa claimed.

The MIBI denied the claims.

The court heard O’Neill has 20 previous convictions and is currently serving a six years sentence at Midlands Prison after breaking into a house in Cork armed with a yard brush. He was sentenced to eight years imprisonment, with two years suspended, by Cork Circuit Criminal Court last year.

Ashamed

He told the High Court on Wednesday he was ashamed and sorry in relation to the circumstances of his convictions.

In his judgement, Mr Justice Hanna described O’Neill as a person with a long criminal record and a former drugs user whose addiction had blighted his life and the lives of a lot of other peopole who suffered under the consequences of his need to rob and steal.

Notwitshanding his serious criminal record, O’Neill was entitled to make a claim in relation to the accident and was entitled to seek a recovery in law, the judge said.

O’Neill’s account of the accident was borne out by the hospital records, the judge said.

A taxi driver who came upon the scene was a Good Samaritan who had offered help and gave his name and phone number on a piece of paper. While the absence of that note presented a difficulty in the case, the taxi driver had come to court to give evidence and was doing his best to tell the truth and had supported O’Neill’s account, he said.

O’Neill presented himself at a Garda station some days after the accident and referred to being knocked down but the garda noted he was in an intoxicated and incoherent state, Mr Justice Hanna said.

Within a matter of days of the incident, O’Neill went “off the wagon” and this would explain the situation in the Garda station, he said.

O’Neill’s “very signficant” history of serious drug abuse just about offered a plausible explanation as to the lapse and also could explain the lack of memory on certain things, he said