A SWINFORD man who crashed a car - splitting an ESB pole in two in the process - tried to pin the responsibility on another person who was a passenger in the car at the time of the accident.
Kevin Cassidy (28) of Barnacahoge, Swinford had denied he was the driver of a Honda Civic which went out of control along the main Foxford to Ballina road at Cooncronon, Foxford on July 28, 2011. He claimed that Jake Smyth who was insured to drive the car had been driving and it was inferred that Mr Smyth did not want to take responsibility because he was serving a suspended prison sentence.
However, Judge Denis McLoughlin told last week’s sitting of Belmullet District Court that he was in no doubt that Mr Cassidy was the driver and jailed him for five months for having no insurance.
The court heard that Smyth, whose father owed the car, was driving when he got a phonecall to pick up Mr Cassidy and another man, Anthony Moran in Swinford. While they were going towards Foxford, Mr Smyth claimed that Cassidy asked him if he could drive the car but he was refused. He kept asking to drive the car and when Smyth continued to refuse he said Cassidy was ‘getting thick’ with him and threatened to punch the head off him if he didn’t let him drive.
When he pulled over on the side of the road, Mr Smyth said Cassidy got out of the car and pulled him from the driver seat. He claimed that Cassidy told him he was either coming or he would be left there, so he decided to get into the car because he feared he ‘would never see the car again’.
Mr Smyth told the court; “I knew we were going to crash, we were going all over the road.”
Evidence was heard from witnesses to the driving who said the car was swerving all over the road. Describing the crash, Mr Smyth said the car went across the road into the path of an ESB pole and landed on its side.
He denied the accusation made to him by Tom Walsh, solicitor for the defendant that he was the driver and he promised Anthony Moran some of the insurance money on the car if he agreed to say Mr Cassidy was the driver.
Garda PJ Clarke said that on his arrival at the scene he noticed the car on its side with Kevin Cassidy trapped inside. He said both Moran and Smyth were out of the car when he arrived and they both said Cassidy was driving.
Garda Clarke said Cassidy’s feet were trapped by the car pedals and he believed he was driving at the time. He said the impact was severe and the occupants were extremely fortunate that it was not a fatal accident.
Mr Cassidy told the court he could not remember the crash but said that Jake Smyth had been driving at all times.
Mr Walsh asked for the case to be dismissed because of the conflict of evidence but Judge McLoughlin said he was in no doubt that Mr Cassidy was driving when the car crashed. He said he did not believe that he was thrown around the car and ended up in the driver’s position.
The court heard that Mr Cassidy had 36 previous convictions and had been disqualified from driving for six years in 2009. Judge McLoughlin said he believed he had tried to pin the blame on Mr Symth because he was disqualified from driving at the time and also disqualified him for ten years.