Bus driver who caused cyclist’s death loses appeal against conviction

ireland
Bus Driver Who Caused Cyclist’s Death Loses Appeal Against Conviction Bus Driver Who Caused Cyclist’s Death Loses Appeal Against Conviction
The judge said the prosecution had presented 'clear evidence' that the double-decker bus had appeared to cut the corner when turning before knocking the victim off her bicycle
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Peter Doyle

The driver of a double-decker bus whose careless driving caused the death of a cyclist has lost his appeal against his conviction.

Osborn Irabor (60) of French Park, Tyrrelstown, Dublin, had pleaded not guilty to careless driving causing the death of Mary White (55) on November 17th, 2014.

However, he was convicted following a two-day trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal court in October 2018 and disqualified from driving for four years.

His lawyers claimed later the trial judge, Judge Francis Comerford, did not explain legal terms to the jury in a way they could understand and appealed the conviction.

Layman's terms

At an appeal hearing in January this year, Irabor’s counsel Patrick Gageby SC said that after the jury was sent out to begin their deliberations they returned and asked the judge to “elaborate in layman's terms” some legal principles in the case.

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Mr Gageby said Judge Comerford then re-charged the jury using legal rather than layman's terms, such as “appreciable”, “due care and attention”, “prudent” and “adverting”.

“The amount of legal language which surrounded this was, it would appear, causing the jury some difficulties,” counsel added.

Mr Gageby also asked the court to consider what his client did that demonstrated that he fell below the standard of care and attention that would be expected of a reasonably competent driver.

There was, he said, no suggestion that he was using a phone or talking to someone or doing anything else that might have distracted him from driving.

Dismissed appeal

On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal dismissed Irabor’s bid to have the conviction overturned, noting that “no requisitions were raised by either side arising out of the re-charge”.

The written judgement delivered by Mr Justice John Edwards also stated the court was satisfied that the verdict “was one that was open to the jury in circumstances where there was evidence capable of supporting it”.

“We reject without hesitation any suggestion that the verdict was perverse on the basis that it was contrary to the evidence and the weight of the evidence,” Mr Justice Edwards added.

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“On the contrary, this was far from a marginal case. There was a collision between a bus and a cyclist which had caused the death of the cyclist.”

The judge also said that the prosecution had presented “clear evidence” that Irabor’s double-decker bus had appeared to cut the corner when turning before knocking Ms White off her bicycle at a T-junction on Burlington Road, Dublin, at 9.40pm.

“The appellant’s appeal against his conviction is dismissed,” the judge wrote.

Responsible road user

As a result of the collision, Ms White died of head injuries two days after the collision.

In a victim impact statement, her elderly mother, Peg White, said her daughter had spent 35 years cycling around Dublin and was meticulous on the roads.

At Irabor's sentence hearing in November 2018, Peg White, from Co Meath, said suggestions during the trial that her daughter was at fault were hard on the family, though she accepted defence lawyers were doing their job.

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Ms White, who was cycling towards the junction, had front and backlights on and was wearing a “hi-viz” jacket.

Judge Comerford said described Ms White as a fully responsible road user.

He said that one of two aggravating factors in the case was the fact that Irabor was a professional driver. The other was the “vulnerability” of cyclists, he said, noting what he said is a mismatch between the size and security of a bus and the vulnerability of a pedal cyclist.

“There has to be particular regard for cyclists because of their vulnerability,” he said.

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