Hospital records prove alcohol levels in dangerous driving case


A 29-year old man has been found guilty of dangerous driving causing the death of a Co Limerick couple in a trial where hospital records were allowed as evidence to prove his blood alcohol level at the time of the crash.

Michael Harty (29) of St Mary’s Terrace, Askeaton, Co Limerick, was almost twice the legal alcohol limit when he caused a crash that killed Maurice Hartnett (61) and his wife Margaret (59) at Ardtomin, Askeaton on July 29th, 2009.

The couple were driving to their home in Gurteen, Ballingarry, when the crash occurred shortly after 5.30pm.

It was the prosecution’s case that Harty, who contested the charge, was guilty of dangerous driving because he was driving on the incorrect side of the road at the time of the collision.

Alcohol test refused

The court heard Gardaí had requested a blood alcohol test when Harty was taken to hospital after the crash but this was refused by doctors because of his serious medical condition.

During the trial defence counsel Anthony Sammon accused Kevin O’Connell, laboratory manager at the Mid Western Regional Hospital, of breaching the National Hospitals Office code of practice for healthcare records management when he handed over to gardaí a lab report with Mr Harty’s blood test results.

The toxicology test showed Harty had 153.9mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

Judge Carroll Moran ruled the result of the blood test and the lab report were admissible.

After just under two hours of deliberations the jury returned with the unanimous guilty verdict. The judge adjourned sentencing until Wednesday next. Harty was remanded on continuing bail until that date.