Garda had time to avoid fatal collision, court told
Expert witness agrees there was evidence of heavy braking for 10m to 13m before collision
Garda Warren Farrell has pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of a pedestrian. Photograph: Collins Courts
A garda accused of dangerous driving causing the death of a pedestrian had time to avoid hitting the woman if he had slowed the car when he first saw her crossing the road, his trial has heard.
Warren Farrell (35), a garda serving in Clondalkin, Co Dublin, was on duty as the driver of a marked patrol car that was responding to a panic button call at a Topaz garage, when his vehicle struck Elizabeth Core.
Garda Farrell has pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Mrs Core at Fonthill Road South, Dublin, on August 28th, 2014.
On day five of the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court the jury heard evidence from defence expert witness Adrian Armstrong.
The forensic collision investigator told Patrick McGrath SC, defending, that he visited the scene of the fatal collision in 2016 and studied the collision report made by Garda Edward Davin.
In his report Garda Davin calculated that after the car hit the deceased she was projected a distance of between 17.7 to 19.1 metres from the point of collision and that such a projection distance is likely to equate to a collision speed of between 56 to 58 km/h. The speed limit in the area was 50 km/h.
Mr Armstrong said that the distance over which Mrs Core was projected cannot be precisely known and so the calculations based on that may be inaccurate.
He said that the damage to the car’s windscreen suggests a collision speed in the order of about 50km/h. He said there is insufficient data to calculate the speed of the car prior to braking. He said the evidence suggested that Garda Farrell would have first been aware of her presence when he was less than 200 metres away.
In his conclusions he stated: “If Garda Farrell had reacted to Mrs Core’s presence at the earliest opportunity he had sufficient time to brake to a stop before he reached her, even if she [was] walking at the fastest likely speed of 2m per second and if he were driving at a speed as high as 70 km/h”.
He said that Mrs Core “may have crossed in time bearing in mind how close she was to the other side”. He said he agreed with Garda Davin’s view that a “violation of expectancy” caused an “extended reaction time”. He noted that the defendant said he was surprised by Mrs Core’s behaviour and reassessed the situation and applied the brakes.
Mr Armstrong agreed that there was evidence of heavy braking for around 10m to 13m before the collision. He said this would be approximately one second of driving time.
“It is up to a court to decide whether Garda Farrell’s initial assumption that Mrs Core would stop crossing was appropriate,” he said.
He also noted in his report that there is conflict in the witness accounts as to whether the siren was active when the patrol car travelled on the Fonthill Road.
“In my opinion it is for a court to decide whether the vehicle’s siren was active,” he said.
Mr Armstrong also noted that the “Response Driving Course manual” states “It must never be assumed that the sounding instrument will be heard by other road users and pedestrians”.
The trial continues.