FOUR people had to be taken to hospital after a learner driver “shot out” on to the main road near Croom and caused a two-car collision, a court has heard.
Anthony Casey, aged 24, with an address at the Clonlong halting site, Southill, Limerick was charged with dangerous driving after causing the crash on the N20 at Garranroe, Croom on December 7, 2011.
He pleaded guilty at Newcastle West court last Friday after the charge was reduced to the lesser offence of careless driving.
Garda Daryl Tubridy told the court that on the night in question he attended the scene of a two-car collision near an off ramp on the Croom bypass, in which a car being driven by a named female drove into the rear of the car in which Casey was driving with three passengers.
All three of Casey’s passengers and the female driver had to be taken to hospital by ambulance following the accident, but all four only suffered minor injuries and were later discharged.
Garda Tubridy said that he later took a statement from the female driver, who said that she was driving on the main M20 at a speed “between 90 and 100 kmph” when Casey’s car “shot out” from a minor road.
The female “attempted to brake hard” and steered into the hard shoulder, but “was unable to avoid a collision” and drove into the back of Casey’s car. The road was wet and slippery on the night in question, Garda Tubridy added.
He said that he was unable to determine the point of impact on the road as by the time gardai arrived at the scene both vehicles had been moved into the hard shoulder, so as to allow traffic to pass.
The court heard that during the investigation into the crash Casey and his passengers “did not make themselves available to provide statements” to the gardai.
The court heard that Casey was driving on a provisional licence at the time, but was not accompanied by a fully qualified driver and had no L plates displayed.
Solicitor John Lynch, defending, said that Casey was turning on the main road from Croom and “thought it was safe to pull out” before the crash took place.
Judge Eugene O’Kelly agreed to reduce the charge to the lesser offence of careless driving, but issued a rebuke to Casey, who was present in court. “Perhaps if he’d have been accompanied by a qualified driver, he would have been advised what he was doing was careless”.
The court heard that Casey has a total of 26 previous convictions, including fines for driving without insurance in 2010 and 2009
Mr Lynch asked that Casey not be disqualified from driving, as he has a three-year-old son who he has to “collect from school on occasion”, while “his partner depends on him to get from A to B”.
Casey also has an ongoing medical issue “that requires regular hospital appointments”.
Mr Lynch said that Casey’s insurance company had “covered all losses” incurred by the other driver.
Judge O’Kelly said that it was “borderline” as to whether or not Casey should be disqualified, given his previous record. “He seems to regard driving as something where he can choose whether or not to have a licence of insurance”.
However the judge opted not to disqualify Casey, instead handing a total fine of €950 for careless driving, driving without L plates and driving without a fully qualified driver.