A WESTPORT woman has been found not guilty of careless driving causing death by a majority verdict.
The jury of eleven found Nicola O’Rourke (44) of 3, The Harbour, The Quay, Westport, not guilty by a majority of ten to one.
Judge Rory McCabe directed a majority verdict on Tuesday afternoon after the jury were unable to come to a unanimous verdict having deliberated on Friday and Tuesday.
Ms O’Rourke pleaded not guilty to the charge and was tried before a jury at Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court following the death of Matt Walsh of Knockrooskey, Westport on January 10, 2015.
Mr Walsh was killed when the car Ms O’Rourke was driving went into the back of a bicycle he was cycling at Gurteen, Aughagower, Westport.
The court had heard Mr Walsh died at the scene as a result of serious spinal cord injuries.
Ms O’Rourke told the court she was ‘blinded’ by the glare of the low sun that morning just before she hit Mr Walsh.
The prosecution contended that Ms O’Rourke could have taken evasive action rather than driving on after being blinded by the sun. There were no brake marks at the scene and Ms O’Rourke said she was driving when she suddenly ‘felt a thud’ and looked in her rear view mirror to see Mr Walsh’s body lying on the road.
The court heard that the road in question, the L1816, the main road to Aughagower village, was a road Mr Walsh cycled daily and that he was wearing a high visibility jacket and a helmet.
The court also heard Ms O’Rourke knows the road well as she had lived in Aughagower for 12 years. She did not know Mr Walsh.
The time of the accident was 11.25am, and both Ms O’Rourke and Mr Walsh were heading due south, in the direction of Aughagower and facing the sun.
Following the verdict, Judge McCabe extended his sympathy to the family of Mr Walsh, who he said ‘did absolutely nothing wrong’.