Steve Collins to face High Court case over accidental death of Limerick pensioner

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Steve Collins with his son Steve Jnr leaving Limerick Coroners Court Picture: Adrian Butler

Steve Collins with his son Steve Jnr leaving Limerick Coroners Court Picture: Adrian Butler

HIGH Court proceedings have been issued against Steve Collins, the father of murdered Roy Collins, after he accidentally knocked down and reversed over an 89-year-old Limerick woman, causing fatal injuries.

The civil proceedings, seeking personal damages, have been made by Conor O’Sullivan, 26, a grandson of the deceased Maura O’Brien, of Milford Grange, Castletroy, who was with her the morning she died.

The proceedings were issued last November, nine months after the fatal accident, and time has now been extended for the trial to proceed to hearing.

Mr Collins, who is represented by Holmes O’Malley Sexton, declined to comment on the case after a jury recorded a verdict of accidental death at Limerick Coroner’s Court last week.

The jury recorded the verdict in accordance with the medical evidence, which found the mother of four and grandmother of six died as a result of multiple skull fractures.

Coroner John MacNamara heard that she was struck by the vehicle driven by Mr Collins at the Ulster Bank car park in Castletroy shortly after 10am on February 17, 2016.

Described as a “dignified and dear lady”, the court heard that she maintained her independence at the age of 89, and was living on her own.  

Members of the family told the court that they hoped she would have lived for many more years to come as she was in good health, which was supported by medical evidence from her autopsy.

Robin Lee, solicitor for the family, said that the verdict would bring some closure to the family, but added that it will “never erase that unfortunate day for them”.

Mr Lee said that the deceased was “no match” for the vehicle, irrespective of the speed it was travelling at, given that the weight of the vehicle was in the region of 2.7 tonnes.

He said there was no evidence that she may have fallen at the scene and thus been out of the view of the driver. 

The condition of the road surface also gave no reason to suggest she suffered a stumble or fall, he added.

According to a number of witnesses, Ms O’Brien was walking behind Mr Collins’ vehicle, when he slowly reversed back and knocked her down, before rolling over her.

Her grandson, Conor O’Sullivan, had driven her to the bank on the day of the accident. He was waiting in the car, while his grandmother intended to arrange her finances to visit her younger sister.

When he observed Mr Collins’ reversing and then stopping, he got out of his car and asked Mr Collins if he had hit his grandmother, after he could not find her.

He said that he saw his grandmother’s hand and then saw that she was under the jeep.

He was “distraught” and a number of people tried to comfort him at the scene, and said Mr Collins was also “visibly distraught.”

Mr Collins earlier spoke of his “horror” at the tragic incident.

Mr Collins was later treated for shock and was described as being in a “very bad way”.

He said that his car’s camera sensor, at the rear of the vehicle, “did not pick up anything”.

He told the Coroner’s Court that he would have been aware of his “surroundings because of my situation – I have been taught to be aware”.

“I was panicking as I didn’t know how to help her. It was a very upsetting scene. It was traumatic,” Mr Collins said.

After a comprehensive investigation, gardaí prepared a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions, who directed that no prosecution be brought.

Inspector Michael Reidy examined the vehicle in Castleconnell and observed blood on the rear left wheel.

He said the vehicle was in good mechanical order and found "there were no issues with the vehicle which could have contributed to the collision."

Garda Conor McDermott, a forensic collision investigator, said Ms O’Brien would have been a “very vulnerable road user”, given her age and as she walked with a cane.

He said there was no evidence that the victim cried out or shouted at the scene, according to others in the car park at the time. Nor was there evidence that Mr Collins reversed with excessive speed, he said.