Widow on trial after fatal County Limerick collision

David Hurley


David Hurley

THE jury in the trial of a County Limerick pensioner who is charged in connection with the death of a lifelong friend two years ago is expected to consider its verdict later today.

THE jury in the trial of a County Limerick pensioner who is charged in connection with the death of a lifelong friend two years ago is expected to consider its verdict later today.

Mary Meade, aged 70, of Lissard, Galbally has pleaded not guilty to reckless endangerment and to dangerous parking outside Jim Corbett’s home on the date of a multi-vehicle collision which resulted in his death.

It is the prosecution case that Mrs Meade, who was a “lifelong friend” of the deceased man, had parked her Opel Astra car on the wrong the side of the road and left her headlights on as she was about to return home.

Motorist Finbarr O’Sullivan has described how he was “blinded” as he came around a sweeping bend near Mr Corbett’s home shortly before 9pm on November 26, 2011.

He said he instinctively kept to the left of headlights but that he lost control of his car and hit the ditch before eventually bringing his Nissan Almera to a stop.

He told the jury of four men and eight women that he then got out of the vehicle and approached Mrs Meade and “pleaded with her” to turn down her lights and move her car.

“I basically told her she was going to cause an accident and that somebody would be killed,” he said.

Mr O’Sullivan said Mrs Meade insisted that she had her dipped lights on and he said she threatened to call the gardai claiming he was acting in an aggressive manner towards her.

The witnesses said he was “dumbfounded” by her reaction and that he returned to his car to retrieve his mobile phone.

He told the jury as he arrived at his vehicle to get his phone he heard a “large collision” followed by a number of ladies screaming “Oh Jesus Christ, Oh my God”.

Mr O’Sullivan said he ran to the scene where he saw smoke and debris on the road. He told the jury he saw a jeep embedded in the front of the Opel Astra and another car embedded in the back of the jeep.

The court was told Mr Corbett was hit by the Astra in the impact and that he subsequently died from head injuries.

In her evidence, Jim Corbett’s granddaughter Sophie Corbett, now aged 16, said the force of the impact caused her grandfather to end up in the yard in front of his house.

She said before the impact, she remembered Mr O’Sullivan telling Mrs Meade to move her car and turn off her lights as they were blinding him.

The teenager said her grandfather went to close the driver’s door of Mrs Meade’s car when another car, a Toyota Rav 4 jeep hit Mrs Meade’s car and the car behind it, a Honda Civic hit the jeep.

Brian O’Dywer, the driver of the Toyota Rav4, told the court that he was blinded by the lights of Mrs Meade’s car which he thought was moving towards him.

He said he swerved to avoid it but clipped the side of the car.

His twin brother Conor O’Dywer who was travelling in a Honda Civic behind him has also given evidence.

He said his car hit the jeep “fairly quickly” after his brother’s car collided with Mrs Meade’s parked car.

The court has heard that Mr Corbett was found lying on the ground unconscious when a local doctor arrived at the scene.

He had suffered multiple injuries to his head. Efforts were made to resuscitate him on the night but he was pronounced dead at 9.20am the following day at the Mid Western Regional Hospital.

PSV inspector, Michael Reddy told the jury he conducted detailed examinations at the scene of the collision and of all the vehicles involved.

He said he did not find any faults in any of the vehicles and he said in his opinion there was no evidence of excessive speed.

“We are talking about low speeds, well below the speed limit (80kph),” he said

Garda Reddy told Mark Nicholas BL, representing Mrs Meade, that the headlights in the Opel Astra car were on “dipped” mode when he inspected the vehicle following the collision.However, he said he believed there would have been a “negligible difference” between having dipped lights on and full beams on as Mrs Meade’s car was parked on a small incline on the hard shoulder.

“This would have affected the elevation of the headlights” he said explaining that it would have increased the risk of oncoming motorists being dazzled by the lights.

“In my opinion, it was creating a trap that I think the vast majority of drivers would have slipped into,” he said.

Closing arguments will be heard today before the jury retires to condsider its verdict.