herald

Tuesday 26 March 2019

Crash garda who caused woman's death spared jail

Gda Warren Farrell
Gda Warren Farrell

The family of an elderly woman who was knocked down and killed by a garda while responding to an emergency call have said she will always be missed.

They were speaking after garda Warren Farrell had a nine-month prison sentence deferred, on condition he pays €5,000 to a charity.

Farrell (33), serving in Ballyfermot, Co Dublin, was driving a marked patrol car in response to an incident at a Topaz garage when it hit Elizabeth Core.

He had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving causing the death of Ms Core in Fonthill Road South, Dublin, on August 28, 2014.

Speed

After a trial last December, a jury convicted Gda Farrell by a majority verdict on an alternative charge of careless driving causing death.

Judge Cormac Quinn said yesterday that the degree of his culpability was in the lower range and the aggravating factor was his speed.

Speaking after the sentencing, a family source said that while the sentence garda Farrell received was in line with what they expected, they remained upset at the way in which procedures were followed after Mrs Core was knocked down.

Elderly victim Elizabeth Core
Elderly victim Elizabeth Core

In their victim impact statement, the family had said that on the day of the accident GSOC called to their family home.

"Our father stated clearly that all he wanted from the investigation was the truth. Due to the fact that a Garda was involved, our father had his doubts regarding this. It hurt him deeply when we were informed that normal procedures were not followed immediately after the accident," said the family source.

They added that a formal complaint about this was lodged with GSOC and examined fully by the commission.

The trial heard that after seeing Ms Core cross from the far side of the road, Gda Farrell failed to slow.

He later told investigators he believed she would see or hear the patrol car and return to her side of the road.

Gda Farrell said he was surprised she continued to cross and immediately applied the brakes and entered the bus lane to avoid hitting her.

He said he tried to mount the footpath but was unable to do so and the left tyre burst.

The front right of the car hit Ms Core and she was pushed on to the windscreen.

Forensic investigators put the car's speed at the point of impact, following heavy braking, at between 50 and 56kph. The speed limit was 50kph. Judge Quinn said there was a tension between the duty imposed on gardai to respond to calls as quickly as possible and the duty not to endanger the public.

He said there was evidence Gda Farrell experienced a "violation of expectancy" where he had expected Ms Core to stop.

When he saw she was continuing to cross, he reassessed the situation and applied the brakes. Judge Quinn noted that as a result of this, up to 2.5 seconds in stopping time were lost.

Judge Quinn ordered that Gda Farrell pay a fine of €2,000 as well as pay €5,000 over to the Irish Road Victims' Association in the next four months.

He set a proposed prison sentence of nine months which he deferred.

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