Driver being sued over fatal crash ‘blacked out’, court hears

Woman sas she had no time to react after psychiatric patient allegedly grabbed steering wheel

Emma Kenneally of Templemore, Tipperary. Photograph:  Collins Courts

Emma Kenneally of Templemore, Tipperary. Photograph: Collins Courts


A woman whose car was involved in a fatal crash had no time to react after a psychiatric patient allegedly grabbed the steering wheel, the High Court has been told.

Elizabeth Dillon was driving a car that crashed into another car being driven by Emma Kenneally outside Kilkenny city on August 24th 2011. Tom and Angela Kenneally, passengers in the car, were killed and Emma Kenneally suffered serious head injuries.

Niall Fitzgibbon SC, told the court Ms Dillon will say she screamed and blacked out when her brother Sean, whom she was driving home from St Luke’s Hospital, allegedly grabbed the steering wheel from her.

Sean Dillon, the front seat passenger, was later found not guilty by reason of insanity of the manslaughter of Tom Kenneally (65) and his wife Angela (61) from outside Templemore, Co Tipperary.

Mr Fitzgibbon, for Elizabeth Dillon, said his client will say she had no time to react when her car veered across the road and crashed into the other car.

Emma Kenneally (35), a teacher, of Barnae, Templemore, has sued Elizabeth Dillon, of Bowsfield, Killerigh,Tullow, Co Carlow and Sean Dillon of the same address.

In court on Friday, Mr Fitzgibbon extended his sympathies to Ms Kenneally over what happened and “ for all your losses.”

He said Elizabeth Dillon will say her brother Sean, following a significant act of self harm, had been admitted to St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny, where he was diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder.

Six days before the fatal crash, counsel day, it was advised Mr Dillon be brought out for short trips.

A number of trips were taken in the days before the incident.

Counsel said Ms Dillon will say her brother grabbed the steering wheel with both hands on the day of the crash.

“ She will say she screamed and blacked out,” counsel said.

Ms Kenneally has also sued the HSE, the owners of St Luke’s Hospital, and the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland. The MIBI is being sued because of the allegation Sean Dillon, who was not insured, was in control of the car at the time of the crash.

It is further alleged against Ms Dillon she allowed her brother to travel as a front seat passenger when she knew or ought to have know it was potentially unsafe to do so.

It is claimed the HSE allegedly released Mr Dillon into the care of his sister when it was allegedly dangerous and unsafe to do and there was failure to ensure adequate assistance was available to the Ms Dillion to manage the behaviour of her brother.

The claims are denied.

The case before Mr Justice Anthony Barr resumes next week.