'Curve ball' in restaurant critic case as new witness comes forward

Tom Doorley
Tom Doorley

THE trial of a taxi driver accused of careless driving after food critic Tom Doorley was knocked down in Dublin city-centre has been thrown a “curve ball” after a new witness came forward.

Mr Doorley suffered two broken shoulders during the incident and Dublin District Court had already heard all the prosecution and defence evidence. Judge Miriam Walsh had adjourned the case for more than a week to consider her verdict.

When it resumed the defence said a man has come forward as a potential witness having read about the case in the media. She described the development as a “curve-ball” and adjourned the case for another two weeks. A decision has yet to be made as to whether the alleged new evidence will be admitted.

Taxi driver Mark Cruikshanks (38) of Cushlawn Park, Tallaght, Dublin has pleaded not guilty and has gone on trial accused of careless driving at Fleet St on the evening of Oct. 17, 2014. He claims Mr Doorley rushed out in front of his Toyota Avensis.

In evidence given earlier, Mr Doorley told Judge Walsh he suffered two broken shoulders when he was knocked down. He alleged he checked if any cars were coming before he crossed the Fleet Street junction with Westmoreland Street.

Mr Doorley, a gourmet who appears as a resident critic in TV3's hit reality show The Restaurant, also writes a food and wine column for the Irish Daily Mail.

He told the court that he lives in Cork but also has a flat in Dublin. He said he went into the city-centre for a business meeting and lunch at the Merrion Hotel. He drank two average sized glasses of red wine. Afterwards he went to Trinity College to check some references for a book he was preparing, he said.

Later, at about 6pm, he went to another restaurant for another meal during which he drank two small bottle of water. He then decided to get a taxi home and walked along Westmoreland Street. At the junction with Fleet Street, he said, he was on the outside flank of a number of people crossing the road.

“Due to a particular childhood experience I am extremely cautious crossing the road,” he has told Judge Walsh. He had said he looked up Fleet St and confirmed nothing was coming. He claimed he proceeded to cross and he recalled that as he was about to step on to the pavement on the far side kerb when he spun and ended up on a bonnet of a car.

He said he then landed on the ground on his back. 

The court heard he was then taken by ambulance to St James's Hospital and was given painkillers; he was subsequently treated at Blackrock Clinic. One shoulder was broken in three places and he also broke his other shoulder, the court heard.

His left side was immobile for six months and he just recently had surgery, he said. Medical reports were furnished to the court.

Mr Doorley showed the clothes he had been wearing: a blue jacket, light blue shirt and fawn coloured trousers. CCTV evidence was shown and medical reports were furnished to the court. 

Gda Declan Ryan said it was an extremely wet and there would have been a lot of traffic. Though there is lighting in the area, it is not well lit, he said. Gda Ryan said the taxi driver Mr Cruikshanks was "very shaken up by what happened".

He said the taxi man told him that he did not see the pedestrian and suddenly there was an impact on the front of his Toyota Avensis and he braked immediately. Passers-by assisted the man on the ground and an ambulance arrived, the court heard.

Mr Cruikshanks has told the court he picked up a passenger and had to make his way to Fleet Street. He was 10 to 15 metres from the corner and the road was clear as he continued driving. 

He said a person appeared in front of his car. He claimed Mr Doorley had been in the middle or the road when he was hit and other people were  still waiting cross. He said he would have braked if he had seen him but “he rushed out in front of me”.

Witness Lucy Fallon-Byrne was driving in her car behind the taxi. She said it pulled out in front of her and seemed to be in a hurry but she did not feel it was dangerous and she was not overly concerned.

She said the taxi stopped suddenly and she described how a woman standing at the scene looked shocked. She said she had the impression the man hit by the taxi was very far across the road. Ms Fallon-Byrne described the weather conditions as “wet”but she did not think it was “lashing”.