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Tyres on Dana's car were not slashed, say experts

EXPERTS today cast doubt over claims that slashes to a tyre on Dana's election car were caused maliciously.

Gardai are probing whether the car was tampered with before a high-speed tyre blowout on Tuesday night.

The election candidate has claimed she is "lucky to be alive" after the incident in which her husband had struggled to avoid colliding with a truck on the M4 motorway.

Dana was sleeping on the back seat of the Peugeot 508 when the incident occurred at Kilcock, Co Kildare -- just a few miles from the M4 toll bridge.

The former Eurovision winner instructed her legal team to file an official complaint with gardai -- claiming that the tyre had been slashed 15 times.

Officers were today assessing CCTV footage from the Leitrim town of Carrick-on-Shannon where Dana had been canvassing earlier in the day.

However, experts today played down the alleged murder attempt claims, insisting that the blowout was most likely caused by driving with a puncture.

Eddie Ryan, marketing director at Advance Pitstop, admitted that the pictures of the wheels did not suggest any sign of "unusual damage".

"From the pictures of the wheel, we can see nothing of any unusual damage. We can see nothing from the outside of the tyre inferring that there is any mischievous damage.

"We can't see the inside of the tyre. And the only way to tell for sure would be to see and examine the inside of the tyre. However, the damage is consistent with a car driven on a flat tyre.

"It would be unusual that someone could drive that distance with damage, maybe if there was only peripheral damage and then they hit debris, but it would be unusual." And Jim Butler, of Butler's tyres in Harold's Cross, said it was "impossible" to come to the conclusion that the tyre was slashed. "It was that badly damaged that it is virtually impossible to conclude if it had been tampered with or not.

No garda forensic experts or anyone would be able to say one way or the other.

A spokesperson for Dana refused to comment today on the experts' claims. Dana has described the incident as "very very scary" and claimed she and her husband, Damien Scallon, are lucky to be alive.

"It was very, very scary to look at. As far as I am concerned, it was a very lucky escape," Dana said.

"I never start a journey without saying a little prayer and I think we are all very lucky.

"Damien was able to get it across the road and into the lay-by. Really your life depends on how your car is and the state of your tyres so we were urged to look into it."

Her husband added that when the tyre first blew, he was forced to swerve the car to avoid an approaching lorry.

"When you see the tyre it kind of sends home to us what they were trying to do. Injure us or murder us? Along with doing that, they could have killed someone else," he said.

"It was quite a terrifying, horrifying moment."

hnews@herald.ie