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Man accused of causing crash during pursuit had cannabis in system, court hears

Man accused of causing crash during pursuit had cannabis in system, court hears

A driver accused of causing a fatal crash during a garda pursuit on the N2 in Co Meath three years ago had cannabis in his system, Trim Circuit Court heard today.

44-year-old Michael Collins, with an address at St Finian’s Park in Drogheda, Co Louth has pleaded not guilty to a charge of dangerous driving causing the death of Jillian Thornton on May 27, 2016 at Waterside Great, Duleek, Co Meath.

The accused man, who is defending himself, has also pleaded not guilty to two charges of endangerment, 12 charges of dangerous driving and a charge of driving under the influence of an intoxicant on the same date.

The court has heard the fatal crash occurred between Ashbourne and Balrath following a 25 minute pursuit of a dark Mitsubishi Colt through Drogheda and east Meath.

Forensic scientist Karen Hayes told prosecuting counsel Carl Hanahoe BL she had tested a blood sample taken from the defendant after the crash.

The test of the sample returned a zero result for alcohol but a second test showed a presence of cannabis.

 

The scientist said that cannabis was a depressant which in a motorist could slow their reaction time, cause them to deviate from lane to lane, misinterpret time and distance and make multitasking more difficult.

Michael McCabe told the court that he had been heading north towards Slane when a car with no lights almost collided with him head on.

He said the other driver was “performing all kinds of mad manoeuvres predominantly on my side of the road”.

The witness said a marked garda car was following at a distance with other garda vehicles coming after that.

He said he later turned and headed back “out of nosiness” but found the road had been blocked and realised something bad had happened.

Jillian Thornton

 

Consultant doctor Alan Ochana who had been diverted to the scene of the crash where attempts were being made to resuscitate the victim told the jury the victim never responded and was taken by ambulance to Our Lady’s hospital in Navan.

There she was pronounced dead and pathologist Dr Muna Sabah who carried out a post mortem said the victims injuries from the crash resulted in her immediate death.

Garda Robert Keenan told the court he had been the observer in the marked Garda Audi A7 which had been the lead car for most of the pursuit.

He said that as the Colt headed towards Slane he and the driver Gda Dessie McGarry had switched off the blue lights and siren, slowed and dropped back approx 700 metres from the Colt after receiving a message that a 999 call had been made from the Colt claiming the driver was going to crash unless gardai stopped following.

He said he hoped the driver might stop and let the passengers out but instead the driver did a u-turn and drove back at the garda car forcing Gda McGarry to swerve to avoid a head on collision.

The trial is continuing.

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