TRIAL ONGOING Defence for Dublin man accused of dangerous driving say evidence is 'fundamentally flawed'
Lawyers for a business man accused of driving dangerously when his car knocked down a pensioner have told a jury that the prosecution's evidence is fundamentally flawed.
Paul Nugent (58) was driving down Harbour Road, in Howth just after midday on January 8, 2018 when his car struck Thomas Clinton who was crossing the road from between parked cars.
Mr Clinton, then aged 80, hit the ground and lost consciousness. He suffered life threatening injuries, including head injuries and a broken leg bone.
He was kept in intensive care for several weeks and is likely to need long term care, the trial of Mr Nugent has heard. Mr Nugent of Leinster Road West, Rathmines, Dublin had just left a business meeting in a nearby coffee shop and was driving back into town when his car hit Mr Clinton.
He has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm to Mr Clinton.
In his closing speech Martin Dully BL, defending, told the jury that this is a tragic case involving two decent hard working people going about their daily business. He said his client understands and sympathises with the devastating injuries suffered by Mr Clinton but that this was an accident in which nobody was at fault.
He said the accused has over 30 years of driving experience, has no previous convictions and considers himself to be a careful driver.
He said he was not speeding, his mobile phone was checked to see if he was using it prior to the collision, and he was breathalysed, Mr Dully said.
The State's case, as set out in a garda forensic collision report, is that Mr Clinton had stepped out on to the road and was visible to the accused 2.88 seconds before collision.
Derek Cooney BL, prosecuting, told the jury this is sufficient time on a straight road of just over 47m for anyone to react to the hazard. The driver applied the brakes 0.24 seconds before collision.
“He has to travel past four vehicles before he applies the brakes and you’re telling me he cannot see Mr Clinton in the middle of the road,” Mr Cooney said. He told jurors that drivers “have to expect the unexpected”.
Mr Dully said that the State's sole allegation is that his client failed to react in sufficient time but, he said, the State has overestimated the time available to him to see Mr Clinton.
He said that at the time the garda report has Mr Clinton visible on the road, CCTV stills show him blocking the right portion of a parked car, according to a report carried out by an engineer for the defence.
“This undermines the central contention of the prosecution about how much time is available to Mr Nugent before he reacts,” counsel said. He said the prosecution calculations are “fundamentally flawed”.
Mr Dully said the defence expert's report sets out that Mr Clinton was visible for at most 2.3 seconds before collision. This gives a reaction time of at most 2.08 seconds “less than a tenth of second above what might be considered to be in the acceptable range”, counsel said.
“When this was put to Garda John Culleton, the sole prosecution expert witness, he accepted unequivocally that Mr Nugent's reaction times were in the acceptable norm of which might be expected of any motorist,” he said.
The trial continues on Friday when Judge Karen O'Connor will direct the jury on the legal issues.