Driver of car in fatal N4 Longford crash tells court: 'I was on top of tractor before I saw it'

Liam Cosgrovel

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrovel

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Longford Courthouse.

The trial of a man charged with causing death by careless driving is continuing before Judge Keenan Johnston.

The driver of a car involved in a fatal road accident in Longford over two years ago has heard how he desperately tried to avoid colliding with a tractor moments before tragedy struck.

Liam Doherty was giving evidence in the trial of a Jamie O'Reilly, Cartrongar, Drumlish, Co Longford at Longford Circuit Court earlier today.

Mr O'Reilly stands accused of careless driving which resulted in the death of 18-year-old north Longford man Joseph Reynolds, Garvary, Moyne, Co Longford at Cloonart South, Bornacoola, Co Longford on July 17 2017.

He is also charged with careless driving causing serious bodily harm to David Gregg, of Garrow Hill, Newtownforbes, Co Longford on the same date and location.

Mr O'Reilly has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

In his direct evidence to the court, Mr Doherty, who was 20-years-old at the time of the incident, told of how he, Mr Gregg, the late Mr Reynolds and a third friend, Cian McNamee had set off from Drumlish towards on the night in question with a view to seeing a DJ perform in Carrick-on-Shannon.

Mr Doherty, who was at the wheel of a black Toyota Starlet, said Mr Reynolds and Mr McNamee had been drinking alcohol in the car en route to the Co Leitrim town but that he had none.

After crossing Ballagh Bridge in Newtownforbes, the court heard how the car made its way along the main N4 in the direction of Rooskey.

Mr Doherty recalled dipping his headlights shortly before the incident as an oncoming car travelling in the opposite direction approached but did not see the tractor until it was too late.

"I dipped and put the headlights back on (after passing the car) and before I knew it I was on top of the tractor," he said.

"I was on top of it before I saw it."

Earlier, Mr Gregg and Mr McNamee gave evidence about their recollections of the night.

The former conceded his memory was "very blotchy" while the latter said he believed Mr Doherty was not speeding.

Earlier, counsel for the prosecution Shane Gerety said it would be the State's case Mr O'Reilly was at the wheel of a tractor which failed to have a flashing amber beacon in operation at the time of the incident.

He said evidence would be heard that it was this failure which prevented Liam Doherty, the driver of a car Mr Reynolds was passenger in, from colliding with the tractor as Mr O'Reilly exited a field onto the N4 at 11:30pm.

Defence counsel John Shortt SC expressed his client's "sincere regret" to the late Mr Reynolds' family and to David Gregg, who sustained serious bodily harm as a result of the collision.

Mr Shortt also acknowledged the injuries sustained by Mr Gregg were caused by the two vehicle collision.

He did though insist it would be the defence's case that those injuries together with the tragic events which culminated in Mr Reynolds' death were not the consequences of Mr O'Reilly driving without due care and attention.