A COUNTY Limerick man who received a lengthy prison sentence after he was convicted of dangerous driving causing the death of an elderly couple almost four years ago was granted bail pending the outcome of an appeal.
Throughout an eight day trial at Limerick Circuit Court, which was heard in January, Michael Harty, aged 30, of St Mary’s Terrace, Askeaton denied the charges, which related to a fatal road collision at Ardtomin, Askeaton at around 5.45pm on July 29, 2009.
Maurice Hartnett, 61, and his wife Margaret, 59, who were from Ballingarry died after the Volkswagen Caddy van they were travelling in was in collision with Harty’s Toyota RAV4 on the R518 between Rathkeale and Askeaton.
During the trial, the jury was told that Harty had been drinking in the hours before the collision and it was the prosecution case that he had been driving on the wrong side of the road when the impact occurred.
The court heard Harty sustained massive internal bleeding in the collision and was “at risk of dying” when he was admitted to hospital.
During two days of legal argument, it emerged a garda request that a blood alcohol test be carried out was refused by doctors because of his serious medical condition.
In what is believed to have been one of the first decisions of its kind, Judge Carroll Moran ruled that the result of the blood test was admissible saying he did not believe there had been a breach of Mr Harty’s constitutional right to privacy and that gardai could obtain such evidence in the course of the investigation.
It is understood that this decision will be one of the main grounds of appeal put forward by Mr Harty’s lawyers, who are seeking to have his conviction overturned.
Following his conviction Harty was sentenced to five years imprisonment band he was disqualified from driving for 30 years.
While lawyers representing the married father-of-three have lodged an appeal but no date has been set to hear the appeal.
Despite strong objections from the state, the Court of Criminal Appeal granted a bail application made by Anthony Sammon SC on behalf of Mr Harty pending the outcome of the appeal.
Harty was ordered to obey a number of conditions as part of his bail although he remains disqualified from driving.
His appeal is expected to be heard in the autumn.