Shane O’Farrell killing: family says inquiry terms are too narrow

Student (23) was killed while cycling by man on bail after litany of justice system mistakes

Shane O’Farrell was killed in August 2011, while cycling on the N2 near Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan.

Shane O’Farrell was killed in August 2011, while cycling on the N2 near Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan.

 

The family of a cyclist who was knocked off his bike and killed in Co Monaghan has said the terms of reference proposed for a State inquiry into his death are “deliberately narrow”.

The family of Shane O’Farrell has said they are concerned that the “rejection” of Judge Gerard Haughton’s proposed terms of reference undermines the scoping inquiry and new terms put forward by the Department of Justice would limit what can be considered by the judge.

Mr O’Farrell was killed in August 2011, while cycling on the N2 near Carrickmacross.

The driver of the car, Lithuanian Zigimantas Gridziuska, had 42 previous convictions for offences including road traffic offences, possession of heroin and theft and was on bail at the time of the incident.

Seven months before Mr O’Farrell was killed Gridziuska was convicted of theft.

The judge in Monaghan adjourned this case for a year to consider whether a custodial sentence was appropriate.

He said if the Lithuanian was convicted of any further frauds or thefts he would be jailed immediately. But in May 2011, when convicted of another theft in Ardee he was not brought back for the court in Monaghan and so was not jailed.

Though he was before different courts a further four times on other matters in the weeks that followed, and breached his bail conditions repeatedly, he remained at liberty and was driving the car that killed Mr O’Farrell in August, 2011.

Gridziuska was stopped in his car by gardaí about an hour before the fatal crash and though it was not roadworthy and had no NCT it was not impounded.

Gridziuska was later convicted of leaving the crash scene and given a suspended sentence.

In June 2018, the Dáil passed a motion calling for a full public inquiry into the death of the young man, which was subsequently passed in the Seanad.

Retired District Court Judge Gerard Haughton was appointed to carry out a scoping exercise to determine what further inquiries should be conducted into the killing of the 23-year-old law student.

Judge Haughton met with the family earlier this year and subsequently submitted terms of reference to the Department of Justice.

“The family has the utmost respect for Judge Haughton, however the family believe that the terms of reference now proposed by the Department do not reflect the spirit of the Dáil and Seanad resolution,” a statement from the O’Farrell family says.

“These terms will not allow the inquiry to ascertain the full and relevant facts pertaining to Shane’s case and appear to be an attempt to curtail the scope of the inquiry and further delay matters.

“The terms proposed by the Department would lead to a narrow and unfair consideration of the complex legal and public policy issues that are at play in Shane’s case and they are not sufficiently broad or exhaustive to address the State’s ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights) obligations.”

The O’Farrell family are due to meet with TDs at Leinster House on Tuesday to discuss the terms of reference.