Metal expert did not carry out required inspection on 'defective' jeep involved in fatal Longford crash, court is told

Polish man denies endangerment charge that later resulted in death of Longford dance teacher Lisa Cullen in 2014

Liam Cosgrove

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Liam Cosgrove

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liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Lisa Cullen RIP

The late Lisa Cullen

A metallurgist enlisted by garda forensic collision investigators to carry out an examination on an alleged "dangerously defective" jeep involved in a fatal collision that killed a Longford dance teacher five years ago has told a court he never carried out any such inspection as he was in the process of retiring.

Tony Horan, an expert in the study of metals for the past 40 years, had been contacted by Garda Public Service Inspector Brendan Mee to determine whether bolts taken from a steering wheel involved in a crash which fatally injured Longford dance teacher Lisa Cullen in February 2014 had been loose prior to the incident.

Adam Krupa (43), Aghantragh, Killashee, Co Longford, a qualified mechanic with 20 years of experience, has pleaded not guilty to intentionally or recklessly allowing a 'dangerously defective' jeep to be driven onto a public road on February 5 2014.

On day three of a trial at Longford Circuit Criminal Court, it emerged Mr Horan had received a steering box and two bolts from the 14 year old vehicle a week after the incident to ascertain if there were steering issues prior to the tragedy.

However, the court heard no such technical inquiry took place.

"I didn't carry out any examination because I was in the process of winding up my business at the time," he said.

A jury of eight men and three women also heard closing speeches today from the prosecution and defence.

John Hayden, Counsel for the DPP, said the case centred on a defective vehicle and whether Mr Krupa, a father of three from Poland, was "either knowing or reckless" as to the workings of the vehicle.

He said Mr Krupa had been informed by the vehicle's owner, Ballymahon based auctioneer James O'Meara to carry out repairs on the vehicle and knew it did not have the required DOE or Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness Test certificate.

"He (Mr Krupa) knew the braking system was rusty and he knew it shouldn't have been driven," he said.

Mr Hayden said while knowing of its defects, he "procured" the aid of a friend, Robert Walliant to drive the jeep back to its owner after consuming a bottle of vodka.

"This was a 14-year-old vehicle without proper certification," he argued.

"He was aware there was an issue with the brakes, he was aware there was an issue with the front wheel because Mr O'Meara told him that.

"If a vehicle has no brakes, you look for a reason and he knew the reason but disregarded it completely."

In defence, Ken Fogarty SC, asked the jury to adopt a "common sense" approach to the evidence and acquit his client.

He insisted the account put forward by Mr O'Meara, someone who had "no interest in the case, good, bad or indifferent" was key to Mr Krupa's innocence.

Mr Fogarty said Mr O'Meara's recollection of having driven the jeep over 100km and delivering a "perfect" performance after purchasing it from a private dealer in Athy was crucial.

He added his client had, in fact, acted responsibly by engaging a colleague, a man by the name of 'Sylvester' to carry out works on the jeep as he did not have a hoist necessary to look underneath the vehicle.

Mr Fogarty also rubbished suggestions about the braking system after Mr Krupa had driven the vehicle home himself when it emerged the wrong brake pads had been ordered.

"There is a suggestion the front off side tyre was soft but there is nothing to suggest it (jeep) was dangerously defective," he said.

He also questioned if Mr Krupa did indeed know about the vehicle's unsuitability to be driven, why he would then agree to be transported in it when he was a father of three children.

Deliberations are expected to commence tomorrow (Friday) after Judge Eoin Garavan gives his charge to the jury.