Thursday, January 12, 2023

High Court reporters

A father of three who was implored not to travel in a car driven by a drunk driver was later only identified by DNA tests as the backseat passenger after the car crashed and went on fire, the High Court has heard.

The family of Waterford man Michael Tobin who died in the road accident six years ago along with two others has settled for €450,000 a High Court action over his death.

An inquest later heard the 22-year-old driver of the car was on the wrong side of the road when it collided with a vehicle in which a family was travelling on a Christmas outing.

It further heard the driver was found to have a high level of alcohol in his system as well as traces of cocaine and other drugs, leading the deputy state pathologist to conclude that his ability to drive would have been “seriously impaired”.


That driver was Eamon Dixon of Abbeyside, Dungarvan, Co Waterford who was killed instantly in the crash as were his passengers the car owner, Kenneth O’Sullivan (39) of Blackpool, Cork, and Michael Tobin (38) from Abbeyside in Dungarvan.

The fatal crash happened at Kildangan, Military Road, Dungarvan on the morning of December 4th, 2016.

Mr Justice Coffey in the High Court this week approved the €450,000 settlement in the Tobin case. The settlement was against the representatives of the car owner Kenneth O’Sullivan and the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland.

The judge conveyed his deepest sympathy to Mr Tobin’s family on what he said “must have been a truly shocking event” in their lives that they have to live with every day.

Tragic case

The family’s counsel Jeremy Maher SC told the court it was a particularly tragic case. All three men were burnt beyond recognition after their car went on fire and the Coroner’s Court heard they had to be identified by comparing their DNA with samples from family members.

Counsel said gardaí carried out a detailed analysis of what happened, and another man had implored Mr Tobin to get out of the car.

“Tragically he did not,” Counsel said.

The Tobin family, he said were united in grief and Mr Tobin had been an excellent father to two sons and a daughter who were aged between six years and 14 years at the time of the accident.

He said because Mr Tobin had been implored by a friend not to travel in the car ,the case would have to be assessed on the basis of 50/50 in terms of liability. Counsel said the full value of the case would be €900,000.

A jury at the inquest returned verdicts of accidental death for all three men.

The inquest heard the car was travelling towards Cork when it crossed the white line in the middle of the road.

It then crashed into a people carrier and a couple and their four children who were travelling towards Kilemeaden for a Santa train visit were injured, but later recovered.

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