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Taxi man ran over TV celeb causing two broken shoulders, court hears

Taxi driver Mark Cruikshanks
Taxi driver Mark Cruikshanks

FOOD critic Tom Doorley has told a court he suffered two broken shoulders when he was knocked down by a taxi in Dublin city centre.

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 Street on the evening of October 17, 2014. He claims Mr Doorley rushed out in front of his Toyota Avensis.

In evidence, Mr Doorley told Judge Miriam Walsh at Dublin District Court today that he suffered two broken shoulders when he was knocked down. He alleged that he checked if any cars were coming before he crossed the Fleet Street junction with Westmoreland Street.

After hearing prosecution and defence witnesses, Judge Walsh granted an adjournment to consider her verdict; the case resumes next week.

Mr Doorley, a gourmet chef 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.

Tom Doorley

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 bottles 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 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 that he was then taken by ambulance to St James's Hospital and was given painkillers. The avid foodie said he was discharged because they did not have enough spare trolleys and 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. In cross-examination, Mr Cruikshanks' solicitor put it to him that he did not mention in his statement about the drinks. He said he did not think it was relevant but it was put to him that it is relevant if someone was drunk.

"I certainly was not drunk," Mr Doorley replied.

Following an intervention from the judge, the solicitor apologised to Mr Doorley and told the court he was withdrawing the question.

"He said the two glasses of wine he had earlier was during a social lunch and the accident occurred at 7.30. During questioning about the size of the drink measures, Judge Walsh commented that hotels are not given to to generosity."

CCTV evidence was shown and medical reports were furnished to the court. 

Gda Declan Ryan said that 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 that 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.

Giving evidence in court today, Mr Cruikshanks said that he had picked up a passenger and had to make his way to Fleet St. 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 of 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 said that before the accident, she 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 that 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".