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Mistrial after juror in crash death case visits scene


A judge in Cork has had to discharge the jury in the case of a man charged with dangerous driving causing the death of GAA commentator Paudie Palmer after it emerged that a juror had visited the scene of the crash over the weekend.

A mistrial has been declared in the case of Bohdan Bezverkhyi of Rigsdale House, Ballinhassig, Co Cork.

The 33-year-old Ukrainian national had denied dangerous driving causing the death of the 65-year-old at Dunkereen Crossroads in Innishannon, Co Cork on 29 December 2022.

Judge Colin Daly addressed the jurors at Cork Circuit Criminal Court shortly before lunchtime.

He asked the jurors if a visit to the crash site had been made by one member. They confirmed through the foreman that it had.

Judge Daly said that such a visit had been in breach of the duties of the jury. He indicated that a verdict could not be reached in a “proper way” as they had broken their oath.

“I warned you that you were only to rely on the evidence. It is very obvious that we cannot have a fair trial.”

A sworn jury minder had indicated that he overheard a conversation among jurors about one member of the jury having visited the crash site. The garda said the juror had made certain conclusions about the crash that he discussed with his fellow jurors. This resulted in the jury being questioned about the matter.

The jurors had retired to deliberate shortly after 11am last Friday. They were sent home at 5.20pm on Friday. They resumed their deliberations this morning.

The Prosecution case had been that Mr Bezverkhyi went through a stop sign and struck Mr Palmer whilst drunk behind the wheel.

Prosecution barrister Brendan Kelly, SC, said that a neighbour had heard the revving of a car driving along the road past her gate prior to the collision at Dunkereen crossroads near Innishannon in Co Cork on 29 December 2022

“But you also have an eye-witness – Mr Bezverkhyi himself – when he texted numerous people that day. And he was speaking honestly then, talking to these individuals when he said ‘I blame myself for it… I left the scene of a traffic accident, drunk, there is no excuse for me, I am guilty of it all’. There is your eye-witness. There is the truth of it.”

He had also asked the jury to consider the technical evidence on the damage done to both vehicles in the crash.

The defence had emphasised that Mr Palmer was not wearing a seat belt. Defence counsel Seamus Roche, SC, said that his client had indicated in interviews that he left the scene because he was afraid.

“He was in shock. Perhaps he did not have the fortitude to remain at the scene. That is reprehensible. And perhaps there is bravado in what he said to others (in the texts).”

Mr Roche also said that the technical evidence on the examination of the cars and the crash scene was “somewhat impenetrable” and did not identify the exact point of impact.

Mr Bezverkhyi also pleaded guilty to other charges relating to the same incident including that he failed to report the incident to gardaí, failed to offer assistance to the injured person, failed to stop and that he left the scene of the crash.

Mr Bezverkhyi also pleaded guilty to a charge of dangerous driving in a separate incident in Curraheen in Co Cork on 28 December 2022.

Meanwhile, Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster had indicated that Paudie Palmer died of traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and thoracic injuries due to a road traffic collision.

Mr Palmer, who was a broadcaster with C103/96FM and a columnist with the Echo newspaper in Cork, died from injuries sustained in the crash on 8 January 2023 at Cork University Hospital.

The popular broadcaster was also a retired school teacher. He survived by his wife Colette, his daughters Claire and Emily, his brothers Denis, Richie and John, his grandson Lucas Pádraig, his extended family, former colleagues at St Brogan’s College in Bandon and a wide circle of friends.

The native of Kenmare in Co Kerry was the uncle of Claudine Keane, who is the wife of former Ireland International Robbie Keane. He lived in Innishannon in Co Cork.


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