A COURIER driver was acquitted of hit and run charges after a judge ruled the contact between his van and a stationary car amounted to a “tight manoeuvre” rather than a collision.
During a contested hearing, Patrick Deere, aged 34, of St Patrick’s Villas, Castleconnell denied several charges relating to an incident at Alphonsus Street in the city centre on August 26, 2013.
In his evidence, Thomas Fitzgerald told Limerick District Court he was stopped and about to turn into his gated apartment complex shortly before 4pm when the defendant pulled up behind his Toyota Corolla.
He described how Mr Deere then got out of the van, approached his car and began shouting at roaring at him.
“He said he was in a rush to go to work,” said Mr Fitzgerald who said he then “went off in a rage”, returned to his van and drove around his car – hitting him twice in the process.
After he drove off, Mr Fitzgerald alerted two gardai who were in the area and made a formal complaint later in the day.
Separate civil proceedings relating to the incident are ongoing.
Garda Shane Hayes of Henry Street garda station said after he met with Mr Fitzgerald he contacted Fastway Couriers who supplied contact details of the van driver – Mr Deere.
The defendant, the court heard, was irate when contacted a short time later by Garda Hayes and declined to make a formal statement in relation to the incident accusing him of already having made up his mind.
Judge Mary Larkin was told both vehicles were later examined and photographed and that there was evidence of paint transfer.
However, neither of the vehicles, the court heard, were damaged as a result of the incident.
Solicitor John Herbert said Mr Deere accepted he approached Mr Fitzgerald’s car and shouted and roared at him but insisted he did not realise his van had made contact with the Corolla.
Seeking to have the charges dismissed he said he client did not realise he was in a collision and had complied with the requests of Garda Hayes.
“He honestly believed he wasn’t in a collision” he said adding that while his client did not make a statement, he did present himself at Henry Street garda station within half an hour of being contacted.
Inspector Paul Reidy rejected Mr Herbert’s submission saying he had no doubt that Mr Deere “would have known there was a collision and impact” and had left the scene.
After viewing photographs of both vehicles, Judge Larkin commented they “would suggest it was a tight manoeuvre” and that the vehicles had rubbed together.
She dismissed the charges.