A 33-year-old man has gone on trial for dangerous driving causing the death of GAA broadcaster Paudie Palmer.
Bohdan Bezverkhyi of Rigsdale House, Ballinhassig, Co Cork pleaded not guilty when he was arraigned before the Circuit Criminal Court in Cork this morning.
Mr Bezverkhyi is accused of dangerous driving causing the death of Mr Palmer on 29 December 2022 at Dunkereen Cross in Innishannon, Co Cork.
In his opening statement to the jury of five women and seven men, Brendan Kelly BL outlined the State’s case but stressed that his outline was not itself evidence.
He said the jury would hear that the accused, who is originally from Ukraine, allegedly admitted to gardaí that he was involved [in the collision] and that he had left the scene.
Evidence that his mobile phone was examined and that he allegedly admitted to a number of individuals in Russian that he had “consumed alcohol and left the scene”, will also form part of the State’s case, Mr Kelly said.
Jurors were told they would also hear evidence from a number of witnesses that he had been seen at a nearby petrol station in Crossbarry from 7.30am that morning with a flat tyre.
Staff and gardaí would say that they spoke with him before he drove off towards Dunderrin Crossroads at around 9.40am.
Another witness would tell the court that she heard a loud bang from her kitchen and when she went to check she saw the red Peugeot car belonging to her neighbour Paudie Palmer up against an embankment.
The prosecution barrister said there will be technical evidence which will show that Mr Bezverkhyi’s car, a grey automatic BMW, was allegedly driven by him coming from a westerly direction towards Dunderrin Crossroads, where there is a stop sign at the junction.
It will be alleged that he would have had a 150 metre view at the stop line looking northwards, the direction in which Mr Palmer – who had right of way at the crossroads – was coming from.
Evidence too would be given that the accused’s car allegedly had a restricted space saver tyre fixed to it when it was impounded after he was arrested at his home in Ballinhassig.
The court was told that Paudie Palmer was critically injured in the collision which happened near his home and died ten days later from his injuries at Cork University Hospital on 8 January 2023.
The cause of death was due to traumatic spinal cord injuries.
The trial is expected to last for up to a week before Judge Colin Daly at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Lorrinda Crowley, who works at Centra in the Crossbarry petrol station, was among the witnesses this afternoon who gave evidence.
She told the jury that when she came to work that morning at 7.30am she saw a car parked in the delivery bay area which “was highly unusual”.
Ms Crowley said the accused was asleep inside the car and they could not wake him. When he woke she spoke to him using Google translate.
He told her he had been there for a number of hours and that there was an issue with a tyre. “He mimicked a bang”, she said. She decided to ring the gardaí.
The court was told gardaí spoke with him for a short while. They noticed the flat tyre but got called away.
Colette Crowley, who lives close to Dunderrin Crossroads, said she was in her kitchen when she said she heard a car racing down the road with the engine revving. She said that she heard a bang.
Ms Crowley told Mr Kelly that she grabbed her phone and said “there’s another one”, because as she explained “we’ve had a few crashes at that crossroads”.
She described seeing her neighbour Paudi Palmer’s car partially on a ditch and a body near the back passenger side.
Asked what type of driver Mr Palmer was, Ms Crowley said she had call him a ‘granny’ driver like herself.
“I never saw him speeding. He would have been a careful driver like myself”, she told Mr Kelly.
Cross-examining Ms Crowley, Senior Counsel Seamus Roche said his client, who is pleading not guilty to dangerous driving causing Mr Palmer’s death, will say that Paudie Palmer was coming at him in the wrong direction.
“I don’t mean to be critical of the man but he didn’t have a seat belt on, and that is one indication that there was a lack of safety,” Mr Roche said.
The trial has adjourned and will resume again next Tuesday morning.