A man who was killed after his car crashed into a wall near the centre of Trim, Co Meath last year had twice been instructed by gardaí to leave the area on foot shortly before the fatal collision.
An inquest also heard that the motorist, Declan Sheridan (45), took off at speed in his car as he was being approached by gardai for a third time in the early hours of May 2, 2022.
Mr Sheridan, a married father of three from Effernock, Trim, Co Meath sustained serious injuries when his 151-reg Mercedes E 300 failed to take a bend and struck a wall at Patrick Street, Trim moments later at around 1.55am.
The deceased, a worker in Tara Mines, was transferred by ambulance to Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown but was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.
Garda Emma Keane told the inquest that she was driving an unmarked patrol car that night around Trim as there had been a series of break-ins to vehicles at the time.
Garda Keane said there had also been reports of a male trying a number of door handles of cars in the town.
She described seeing a male leaning against a parked vehicle on Patrick Street and looking into it.
Garda Keane said Mr Sheridan had identified himself but denied that it was his vehicle.
She recalled that she had asked him to move away from the vehicle as it was not his and he appeared to be “under the influence” and had slurred speech.
When the patrol car passed the same location a few minutes later, Garda Keane said Mr Sheridan was still at the same vehicle.
She said Mr Sherdian admitted this time that the Mercedes belonged to him.
At that point, Garda Keane said he was advised that he could be arrested if he did not move away from the vehicle and she issued him with an order to leave the area.
Although Mr Sherdian protested that he was not doing anything wrong, she said she again instructed him to leave the area on foot.
Garda Keane recalled that the patrol car drove off after the deceased had indicated he would walk home.
However, she said when it passed the location again a short while later, she noticed that the lights had been turned on in the Mercedes before Mr Sheridan attempted a U-turn.
She said the driver “took off at high speed” as her colleague, Garda Orla O’Brien, had got out of the patrol car and was approaching Mr Sheridan’s vehicle on foot.
Garda Keane said she followed the vehicle but did not activate the patrol car’s blue lights.
The inquest heard that Mr Sheridan crashed into a stone wall next to St Joseph's Community Nursing Unit in Trim.
Garda Keane said she had not seen the driver braking before the collision.
“There was no chase. It happened in a short space of time,” she told coroner Clare Keane.
Garda O’Brien told the hearing that gardaí had first noticed Mr Sheridan at around 1.30am and confirmed her colleague’s evidence over how he first denied owning the Mercedes before later admitting it was his car.
She described how she found the motorist slumped over the driver’s seat with his pulse and breathing becoming slower and more laboured before eventually stopping before paramedics arrived on the scene.
In reply to questions from the coroner, she said the only reason the deceased was stopped in the first place by gardaí was to ascertain if he owned the vehicle he was leaning against.
Garda O’Brien said she had no concern about his welfare at that stage although he had appeared intoxicated as his behaviour was not erratic but he just looked like a man “who needed to go home.”
An eyewitness, Lucy Harrington, recalled hearing the wheels of a car “squealing” as it took off as a garda approached the vehicle.
However, Ms Harrington said neither Mr Sheridan nor the gardaí were driving erratically.
The inquest heard there were no mechanical defects to the vehicle that might have been a factor in the crash, while there was evidence which suggested Mr Sheridan was wearing his seatbelt.
A forensic collision investigator, Garda Cliff Harding, said the vehicle’s speedometer had stuck as a result of the crash which indicated it had been travelling at a minimum of 83km/h at the point of impact on a road where the speed limit was 50km/h.
Garda Harding said the collision had occurred around 250 metres from the point where the vehicle had sped away from gardaí.
Sergeant Catherine Davitt said the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission had been notified about the incident but had decided it had no further role in the investigation in October 2022.
Sgt Davitt also informed the coroner that the DPP had directed that there was no basis for any prosecution in the case.
She told Dr Keane that it was believed Mr Sheridan had also visited another pub in the centre of Trim earlier that night.
Mr Sheridan’s wife, Grace Kiely, said her husband had headed out the previous evening at around 9pm but had returned home at some stage around 11pm.
Ms Kiely said the next thing she knew was being woken by gardaí the following morning at around 3am to inform her that he had been involved in a serious crash.
In reply to questions from the coroner, Ms Kiely said her husband would usually just go to their local pub, Jack Quinn’s.
She said they would normally leave their car in town if they went drinking in the centre of Trim and get a taxi home.
However, Ms Kiely said unfortunately her husband had decided to drive into town that night.
Returning a verdict of death by misadventure, the coroner said postmortem results showed that the victim had a level of alcohol which would have made him “quite intoxicated.”
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