Agony of 14-year wait for answers on our girl's death
The family of a 23-year-old Girl-Guide captain who was killed by an uninsured driver have criticised a 14-year gap between the time of her death and the inquest held last week.
Blathnaid Cadwell, of Beech Lawn, Dundrum, suffered fatal head injuries in the incident on February 23, 2002, when she was struck by a car driven by Liu Yang. He had no driving licence and had bought a fake insurance disc for his 5 series, two-litre BMW.
Witness Michael Mooney said he saw the car travelling between 50-60mph in a 30 mph zone. "I saw the back of the car sliding out, I thought 'he is going to be in trouble' and turned back," he said.
When he saw Blathnaid lying on the footpath he called an ambulance.
In a statement taken by gardai, driver Liu Yang said he had a Chinese driving licence but had failed the driver theory test in Ireland.
"I was driving to a friend's house, I never got there. I saw a girl on the footpath. As I was driving up Beaumont Avenue I could not control the car, the road was wet," he told gardai when interviewed.
Due to appear in court on October 25, 2002, Mr Yang left the country a day earlier.
A bench warrant was issued for his arrest, but garda inquiries revealed he had returned to China on a fake passport.
There is no extradition treaty between Ireland and China, but gardai have said the case remains open and if Mr Yang appears in any European country he can be sent back for trial.
Blathnaid was a communications graduate who followed her father, former RTE cameraman Bill, into television media.
Her mother Mary has now questioned the lack of communication from authorities in the 14 years since Blathnaid's death.
"The inquest was first opened in April 2002, but was adjourned because the legal case was ongoing, and because the accused man fled the country the case has remained open," Mary Cadwell told the Herald.
"We made some enquiries to the gardai over the years, but nothing seemed to happen. We would bump into relatives at family functions and meet friends of Blathnaid and they would ask 'what ever happened?' but we had no answer for them. It was just nagging away at us for years.
"Any sort of communication from the gardai or Coroner's Office would have been welcome. Even if there was no particular update, a communication to that effect would have been something," she added.
"We were the ones making the enquiries. It was us keeping the process alive. I think that if we hadn't pushed for it there would not have been an inquest."
Mary said it was difficult, but good, to learn information at the inquest.
"I learned for the first time that the woman who ran to Blathnaid had talked with her while she was still conscious. She said 'tell me your name love and I'll contact your mammy and daddy' and Blathnaid had responded to her.
"We found out that this lady was in bed when she heard the noise of the car and had said to her husband 'there's going to be an accident'.
Mary said the bus journey to last Wednesday's inquest was in many ways a tour of landmarks of Blathnaid's life.
"We passed the scene of where she was knocked down; Mount Carmel hospital, where she was born, and Aungier Street college, where she was so happy."
Mary told how Blathnaid had achieved so much in her short life and had done so much good for so many.
"She had studied and began working in her chosen career, and had contributed so much in the Irish Girl Guides.
"Some of the girls who might have had a few problems told us afterwards that Blathnaid made them see that they could achieve anything.
Blathnaid stayed overnight with a friend and was on her way home when the incident happened.
"In her 23 years she had a wonderful life, she had achieved so much. It is only when she is gone that you realise what an impact she had," her mother said.
First opened in 2002, the inquest concluded last Wednesday with a narrative verdict due to the outstanding charge. The criminal case remains open.