Taxi man spared road ban for running over foodie Tom Doorley

Tom Doorley
Tom Doorley

A TAXI man convicted of careless driving after food critic Tom Doorley was knocked down and seriously injured has been fined €500 but spared a livelihood threatening road ban.

Mr Doorley suffered two broken shoulders during the incident, Dublin District Court heard.

Taxi driver Mark Cruikshanks (38) of Cushlawn Park, Tallaght, Dublin pleaded not guilty to careless driving at Fleet St in Dublin city-centre on the evening of Oct. 17, 2014.

He claimed Mr Doorley rushed out in front of his Toyota Avensis but he was found guilty today by Judge Miriam Walsh.

The court heard he had one prior conviction, imposed in 2003, for driving without insurance which resulted in a fine and a one-year road ban.

Defence solicitor Kieran Friel asked the judge to note his client depended on his driving licence for work. He said his client would have to look for another job if he were disqualified from driving.

He said father-of-one Cruikshanks would face extreme difficulties and be unable to pay bills and would have to look for another job.

Fining him, the judge noted that in special circumstances the court had discretion not to impose a road ban and she said would not disqualify him from driving.

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 told Judge Walsh. He had said he looked up Fleet Street 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 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 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.

Cruikshanks 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 her car behind the taxi. She said it pulled out in front of her and seemed to be in a hurry.

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”.

During the trial a new witness, Brian Whelan, came forward and was allowed give evidence. He initially said Mr Doorley jogged across the road but later compared it to a fast walk. He said Mr Doorley was past the middle of the road when he was struck.