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trial begins Members of cycling club recall vehicle speeding on wrong side of road seconds before fatal collision, court hears

Kevin Hutchinson has pleaded not guilty to a charge of dangerous driving causing the death of Tonya McEvoy

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Kevin Hutchinson from Robertstown West, Co Kildare. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Kevin Hutchinson from Robertstown West, Co Kildare. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Kevin Hutchinson from Robertstown West, Co Kildare. Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Members of a Dublin cycling club have described how a car came around a bend towards them partly on their side of the road seconds before a collision which killed one of their group four years ago.

A sitting of Naas Circuit Criminal Court heard evidence from several members of Orwell Wheelers Cycling Club in Dundrum who recalled being startled at how the vehicle had crossed over a continuous white line at speed.

Kevin Hutchinson (29) of Robertstown West, Robertstown, Co Kildare has pleaded not guilty to a charge of dangerous driving causing the death of Tonya McEvoy on February 12, 2019 at Rathcoffey, Co Kildare.

The collision occurred while Ms McEvoy (34) of Moyville, Rathfarnham, Co Dublin, was on a training cycle to Maynooth in a group of 16 riders from the Orwell Wheelers.

One of the cyclists, Robert Tully told the court that he was at the front of the group as they approached a bend on the Newtown Road in Rathcoffey.

Mr Tully said he had shouted out “f**king wanker” at the driver as he had “cut the corner” and was “over the line.”

Asked by counsel for the DPP, Daniel Boland BL, if he had any concern for his own safety, Mr Tully replied: “I was just seconds away. If we had not pulled over, it could have been me.”

The witness said the speed of the vehicle seemed “excessive” and appeared to accelerate as it came around the bend.

The trial heard that a number of vehicles were parked on the other side of the road before the bend by people attending a nearby church.

Mr Tully agreed with counsel for the defendant, Feargal Kavanagh SC, Mr Tully that cars coming from the other direction would be forced to cross the white line due to the parked vehicles, but said “forced” was a bad choice of words.

Asked if the cyclists should have slowed down because of that, he replied: “We don’t drive down the middle of the road.”

He rejected a suggestion by Mr Kavanagh that they could have been cycling up to four a breast at the time because of changes at the front of the group.

The trial heard the cyclists were members of the club’s “orange” group which represented experienced cyclists who had an average speed of 28-30 km/h.

Another cyclist, Evan Hughes, said two-thirds of the car was on the wrong side of the road as it came out of the bend going “dangerously fast” before he heard “an unmerciful sound”.

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He rejected suggestions by defence counsel that the speed of the car was 20-30 km/h.

Another witness, John Anslow, said the speed of the car as it came towards the group on the bend was “a bit of a shock” and made him “very scared”.

“My mind and body tensed as I expected the car to hit other cars parked on the other side of the road,” he added.

Asked about the parked cars by Mr Kavanagh, Mr Anslow said he did not see them as a potential hazard “if you’re cycling correctly and on your own side of the road.

He added: “You don’t expect to see a car on your side of the road as there is a continuous white line.”

Cyclist, Monica Freiband, said she felt “a bit of panic” at the sight of the car as it was going faster than anticipated.

She estimated its speed at 60 km/h and felt “a rush of air” as it passed just one to two feet from her.

Another member of the group, Diarmuid Donnelly, said the car had passed him “at arm’s length”

“I felt it was close enough that I could have reached out to it,” he recalled.

The trial before Judge Patrick Quinn and a jury of seven men and four women is taking place in Drogheda due to Covid-19 space restrictions in Naas courthouse.

At the start of the hearing on Tuesday, the judge discharged a male juror who notified the court that he realised one of the witnesses was a work colleague

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