Man on trial over collision which claimed life of couple

A COUNTY Limerick man has gone on trial in relation to a fatal road crash in West Limerick almost four years ago in which an elderly couple were killed.

A COUNTY Limerick man has gone on trial in relation to a fatal road crash in West Limerick almost four years ago in which an elderly couple were killed.

Michael Harty, aged 30, of St Mary’s Terrace, Askeaton has pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Maurice Hartnett, 61, and his wife Margaret, 59, on July 29, 2009.

The jury of seven men and five woman has been told the charge relates to a collision involving a van and a 4x4 at Ardtomin, Askeaton on the R518 between Askeaton and Rathkeale.

The jury has been told that Mr and Mrs Hartnett died after the Volkswagon Caddy van they were travelling in was in collision with a Toyota RAV4 at around 5.45pm.

Opening the prosecution case this Wednesday, John O’Sullivan BL told the jury that Mr and Mrs Harnett, who were from Gurteen, Ballingarry, were travelling in the direction of Rathkeale at the time of the crash.

It is the prosecution case that the collision happened on a bad stretch of road where there are a number of bad bends.

Forensic Collision Investigator, Sgt Kevin Burke, told the jury the impact happened at an area which is governed by a continuous white line with warning signs on both sides.

He said he determined the point of impact was on the Hartnett’s side of the road and that he believed Harty was driving on the wrong side of the road at the time.

Richard Hayes, who was the first person to arrive on the scene of the collision, described how he observed the Caddy van was “up on the ditch” and the RAV4 was on its side facing in the wrong direction.

He also described how tools from the van were “strewn all over the road”.

Advance Paramedic, John Burton, said Margaret Harnett was pronounced dead at the scene and he told the jury Maurice Hartnett died in the ambulance a few minutes after he was removed from the vehicle.

Mr Burton added that there were difficulties extricating Maurice Hartnett from the van due to the amount of damage caused to the driver’s side of the vehicle in the impact.

The trial, which is likely to continue into next week, continues before Judge Carroll Moran.