Friday, February 02, 2018

By Ann O’Loughlin

The driver of a car which crashed into a teacher’s car killing her parents and causing her multiple injuries screamed and blacked out when her passenger, a psychiatric patient, allegedly grabbed her steering wheel, the High Court heard today.

[imgcap=Emma Kenneally]EmmaKenneally2_large.jpg[/img]

The psychiatric patient Sean Dillon, who was sitting in the front passenger seat of Elizabeth Dillon’s car, was later found not guilty by reason of insanity of the manslaughter of the couple who died in the accident outside Kilkenny city.

Senior Counsel Niall Fitzgibbon for Elizabeth Dillon told the High Court yesterday Ms Dillon will say she had no time to react when her car veered across the road and crashed into teacher Emma Kenneally’s car.

Ms Kenneally’s father, Tom (65) and her mother Angela (61) from outside Templemore, Co Tipperary were killed in the accident about 6km outside Kilkenny city on August 24,2011.

In court today, Mr Fitzgibbon extended deepest sympathy to Ms Kenneally for what happened and “for all your losses”.

He said Elizabeth Dillon will say her brother Sean Dillon had been admitted to St Luke’s Hospital Kilkenny following a significant act of self harm. He was diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. Counsel said six days before the accident it was advised Mr Dillon be brought out for short trips. There had been a number of trips taken in the days before the accident.

Counsel said Ms Dillon will say her brother grabbed the steering wheel with both hands.

“She will say she screamed and blacked out,” Counsel said.

Emma Kenneally, Barnae, Templemore, Co Tipperary has sued Elizabeth Dillon, of Bowsfield ,Killerigh,Tullow, Co Carlow who was the owner and the driver of the other car and Mrs Dillon’s brother Sean, of the same address, who was the front passenger in the car and who it is alleged grabbed the driver’s wheel as Elizabeth Dillon drove outside Kilkenny town on August 24, 2011.

Ms Kenneally has also sued the HSE the owners of St Luke’s Hospital , Kilkenny where Mr Sean Dillon, the court heard, was receiving treatment for a psychotic disorder, and the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland. The MIBI is being sued because of the allegation Sean Dillon was in control of the car at the time of the accident and he was not insured.

It is claimed Ms Kenneally who was lawfully driving her car at Troyswood, Kilkenny suffered injuries when the car driven by Ms Elizabeth Dillon crossed onto its incorrect side of the road and collided with Ms Kenneally’s car head on.

It is alleged the reason Ms Dillon’s car went on its incorrect side of the road was because her driving was compromised by the actions of her brother Sean Dillon, who was at that time a psychiatric patient under the care of the HSE at St Luke’s Hospital Kilkenny and allegedly had been allowed to leave the hospital to be driven home by his sister.

It is further alleged against Ms Dillon she allowed her brother to travel as a front seat passenger when she knew or ought to have know it was potentially unsafe to do so.

It is claimed against the HSE it allegedly released Mr Dillon into the care of his sister when it was allegedly dangerous and unsafe to do and there was an alleged failure to ensure there was adequate assistance available to the Ms Dillon to manage the behaviour of her brother.

The claims are denied. The case before Mr Justice Anthony Barr continues next week.

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