Bus driver guilty of careless driving causing death

Updated / Wednesday, 24 Oct 2018 17:42

Mary White suffered serious head injuries and was pronounced dead two days later

A Dublin Bus driver has been found guilty of careless driving causing the death of a cyclist.

Osborn Irabor, 58 and of French Park, Tyrrelstown, Dublin, had pleaded not guilty to careless driving causing the death of 55-year-old Mary White on 17 November 2014 .

The collision took place around 9.40pm at a T-junction on Burlington Road in the south of the city as the bus was turning right into the road Ms White was cycling on.

Ms White was cycling towards the junction and was knocked to the ground in the incident.

She suffered serious head injuries and was pronounced dead two days later.

The jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court returned the unanimous verdict after a little over two hours of deliberations.

Judge Francis Comerford thanked the jurors for their care and diligence in deliberations and said this was a tragic case for everyone involved.

He remanded Irabor on continuing bail and ordered victim impact reports to be provided for sentencing.

Garnet Orange SC, defending, asked for some time to be given so his client could gather testimonials of his previous good character and Judge Comerford adjourned the case to 12 November.

The trial heard Irabor has worked for Dublin Bus since 2010 and had a good safety record. There was no evidence that he was speeding but a garda investigator testified that he had "cut the corner" of the junction and was on the wrong side of the road when the vehicles collided.

Crash investigator Sergeant Paul Kearney told the jury that he believed the bus began the right turn up to five metres from the yield point at the junction and was moving across the solid white line.

He disagreed with a view from the defence that to make the turn a vehicle had to cut the corner. He said he thought it was not a difficult corner and added that "Dublin Bus drivers are highly trained".

He said it was a "head-on collision with a 30 to 40% angle of impact".

The trial heard evidence that the wheel struck the front of the bus, the wheel buckled and the bicycle twisted and turned up.

The handlebars reared up and hit the bus, and the bus pushed the bike back before coming to a stop about two metres on.

Sgt Kearney said that in his opinion the deceased was extremely visible as a cyclist and noted her luminous jacket, front and rear lights and a helmet.

Mr Orange told the jury that Ms White was not on trial but said that what killed Ms White that night was pure bad luck and not carelessness.

He said the headlights of the bus could not have caught Ms White and that his client could not have seen her. He said it was murky winter’s night and said the location of the accident was darker than the rest of the road because of a broken street light.

Mr Orange said that what killed Ms White was the head injury sustained when the back of her head hit the road. He said her helmet was not fastened and had only being resting on her head.

"It clearly fell off when she fell off. It was as useless as a chocolate teapot," he said.

He said there was evidence the buses routinely crossed the line at that junction. He said if it was this crossing of the line which caused the collision "there would be accidents there every day".

Mr Orange urged the jurors to leave out any views they had "about the ongoing heated cyclists versus everyone else debate".

"Whether you hate cyclists or whether you're a cyclist who hates bus drivers you cannot let those views cloud your decision. You must leave those out of the jury room but you cannot leave your common sense out," he said.

In her closing speech Antonia Boyle BL, prosecuting, told the jury that the State's evidence was the bus cut the corner.

She said the bus did not approach the yield marking and take the correct turn and hit the cyclist on the wrong side of the road it was turning on to.

She said the defendant did not wait for the traffic already on the major road to pass before turning on to it, as per the rules of the road.

She said that evidence that other buses routinely cut this corner did not make it correct to do so in all circumstances.

Judge Comerford had earlier told the jury to consider whether the driving fell below the standard expected of a reasonable prudent driver in the circumstances. He told the jury if there was a possibility that the cyclist was not visible to the driver, it should acquit.