BREAKING - Woman found NOT GUILTY of dangerous driving causing deaths of 4 pals in Athy crash

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BREAKING - Woman found NOT GUILTY of dangerous driving causing deaths of 4 pals in Athy crash
15:19 Thursday 12th of July 2018

Dayna Kearney (aged 23) has been found NOT guilty of dangerous driving causing the deaths of four of her friends in Athy, Co Kildare in January 2015.

Ms Kearney (above) has also been cleared of knowingly driving a defective vehicle on the same date and location.

The verdicts were returned by the jury of seven women and five men in Naas Circuit Court after just half an hour of jury deliberations.

If convicted, Ms Kearney had faced several years in prison under maximum sentencing guidelines connected to the offences.

Ms Kearney, from Crossneen in Carlow, had pleading not guilty to dangerous driving causing death and to driving a dangerously defective vehicle in January 2015 on the N78 Athy link road at Burtown, outside Athy.

The high-profile trial began at Naas Circuit Court on Tuesday.

Tragic friends - 20-year-old Chermaine Carroll from Athy – and Niamh Doyle, Gemma Nolan and Aisling Middleton - all aged 19 and from Carlow - died in the incident.

The five women were travelling together in a Volkswagen Polo driven by Ms Kearney when the collision between the car and another vehicle occurred.

Ms Kearney was seriously injured and it was four month before she was well enough to be interviewed by Gardai.

Very little recollection

The jury was told on the opening day of the trial at Naas Circuit Court this week that Ms Kearney had very little recollection of what had happened when she made a statement to Gardaí.

Prosecution lawyers said the vehicle seemed to veer over to the wrong side of the road and crashed "passenger side on" into a white Transporter van travelling in the opposite direction.

Tyres

The jury was told that all of the tyres on the car had good threads, the road was straight and weather conditions were good.

But some of the tyres had not been correctly inflated which caused the car with its heavy load to veer to the wrong side of the road.

NCT

The trial has been told the NCT certificate on Ms Kearney's car had expired eight months before the crash.
Sergeant Donal O'Sullivan said when he interviewed the driver after the crash she said she bought the 2001 Volkswagen Polo on website DoneDeal under the impression the NCT was in place until March of 2015, but when her mother enquired about the certificate she was told it had in fact expired in May 2014, eight months before the crash.

Provisional driver

The court was also told Ms Kearney was driving on a valid provisional driver’s permit on the day of the crash, but was not accompanied by a driver with a full licence and did not have L plates on her car.

Garda Rachel Murray told the trial there were scuffs on the road after the crash, saying it is her opinion the car had veered over onto the wrong side of the road and afterwards when the tyres were examined there were issues with two of them.

A motorist Tracy Norton told the trial she was driving behind the Transporter van when she saw the car driven by Ms Kearney swerve across the road.

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