independent

Monday 16 September 2019

Not guilty of causing bin man's death

JURY'S MAJORITY VERDICT

A JURY AT Wexford Circuit Court has found an Enniscorthy man not guilty of dangerous driving causing the death of Wexford County Council worker, Eddie Kirwan from Tomhaggard, two and a half years ago.

The jury returned the majority verdict just after 5 p.m. yesterday ( Tuesday) evening, after deliberating since 12.30 p.m. They did, however, find defendant Anthony Armstrong, of 4E Lower Church Street in Enniscorthy, guilty of the lesser offence of careless driving.

Armstrong broke down in tears after the verdict was read out, while there was nothing but stony silence from family members of the late Mr Kirwan who was in court.

Armstrong had pleaded not guilty from the outset to causing the death of Mr Kirwan at Ballypreacus, Bunclody, on July 25 in 2008, when his car struck Mr Kirwan as the victim was on duty with a Council bin lorry.

Witness Leanne Moulton told the court that she was in a car driven by her brother, Darren, on the road from Bunclody to Kiltealy. As they came around a bend she saw a black car go up on the ditch on their left side. She saw a man standing on the inner side of a bin truck, the car hit him and went on for a few feet. They braked and she ran up with her brother to help the injured man.

In evidence Kathleen Connolly said she was heading for her brother's house in Rathnure. She said she was driving in her Toyota Yaris and was behind the bin lorry. ' I was waiting for it (truck) to move off. I heard a loud screech of tyres and then a dark car came along the ditch on the inside of me. I put my hand to my head and said "Jesus Christ". I had seen one bin man get out of the lorry and go across the road for bins. I never saw anyone else,' she said.

Garda John Culleton gave evidence of having carried out an examination of the scene of the accident. He also carried out a test at the scene using a vehicle with ABS disabled.

He used a laser speed meter and, at a certain point, applied apply full brakes to work out the friction of the road. As a result of the test he came to the conclusion that the defendant would have been travelling at 86.27 km/h at the time of the accident.

Defence Counsel, Mr Aidan Doyle, argued that his client was not responsible for the tragedy. He said he had just begun to try overtaking the Toyota Yaris that was behind the bin lorry, when it too pulled out, causing him to swerve. He lost control of his car as a result, and went into the ditch.

Anthony Armstrong's statement, which was read into evidence, said he was travelling at 70/80 km/h. Immediately on coming around the bend, he was confronted by a county council refuse truck parked on the side of the road. At the time there was also a car in the process of overtaking the truck which effectively meant he had nowhere to go. Also on the right hand side of this car in Plunketts driveway there was two men standing, while there was also a man standing behind the truck.

' I braked hard and swerved to the left-hand side. Unfortunately the man who had been standing behind the truck ran from the rear of the truck between the truck and ditch. At this stage there was nothing I could do to avoid hitting him,' the statement said.

After more than four hours of deliberation, the jury brought in its verdict.

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