herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

Mum cleared for crash that killed her daughter (4)

Melissa Delaney pictured at Cork Circuit Court.
Melissa Delaney pictured at Cork Circuit Court.

A PREGNANT mother was acquitted of dangerous driving causing death after an horrific crash in which her four year old daughter was catapulted from her overturned vehicle.

Melissa Delaney (24) bowed her head as a Cork Circuit Criminal Court jury found her not guilty of dangerous driving causing the death of her eldest child, Kathleen O'Brien (4), two years ago.

She is expecting her third child - a baby girl - in April.

The jury of eight men and four woman found her not guilty, on the direction of Judge Donagh McDonagh, on the second day of her trial.

Judge McDonagh ruled, after legal argument about one of the van tyres, that it would be unsafe to allow the case continue and directed that the defendant be found not guilty.

Delaney of Radharc na Fia, Convent Road, Doneraile, Cork had denied a single charge of dangerous driving causing the death of her daughter at Kilmona, Blarney on the Cork-Mallow Road on July 13, 2013.

She was too upset to comment after the case.

Her solicitor, Kevin Hegarty, said it had been a traumatic ordeal for her entire family.

"Life has become very difficult for her. She finds it very hard to function," he said.

"Now that the case is concluded she and her husband hope they can rebuild their lives in some shape and that this can be a new beginning for them."

She is expecting a baby girl in early April. The couple have another daughter, Mary Margaret (3).

Don McCarthy BL, for the State, in outlining the case, said the fatal incident occurred shortly after 4pm that Saturday afternoon.

The tragedy occurred at the Grenagh junction on the main Cork-Limerick road and involved a van being driven by Melissa Delaney

The vehicle contained her husband and their two young daughters, one of whom was Kathleen.

It was travelling from the Cork direction when the collision occurred.

Mr McCarthy said it was the State's case that the van was being driven at speed and, as it suddenly manoeuvred around a vehicle that was turning left, it mounted a roadside bank and over-turned.

The vehicle overturned in the direction of a side junction.

"In the course of this something was seen to come out from the van," he said.

"Tragically, that turned out to be the little girl who was killed."

Witness, Donal McCarthy, said he was driving a vehicle from Cork that day. He had travelled in the Mallow direction and indicated at the Grenagh junction. As he was about to turn left he heard the noise of a vehicle braking.

"I was proceeding along the filter lane [when] I heard a screech of brakes from behind me. There was a white van coming... behind me," he said.

"The next thing I realised the van was inside me (heading towards) the grass verge.

"It turned over - maybe it turned over two times or more. There was something thrown from the van. Something just flew right out of the van," he added.

"I fairly quickly realised that it was a child. I got out of the car and I just froze."

hnews@herald.ie

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