Gardai find missing nuts in Muff lorry accident case

May 4, 2021

A senior Garda has asked a judge for more time to find lost evidence relating to a serious lorry accident in which a woman was struck by a runaway wheel.

Garda Sergeant Jim Collins was speaking at Carndonagh District Court where Nerijus Cekanaskas, of Old Rectory Meadows, Cookstown, County Tyrone, was charged with dangerous driving and knowingly driving a defective vehicle at Ardmore, Muff, on July 25, 2018.

Also before the court charged with being the owner of a dangerously defective vehicle was O’Kane Plumbing and Electrical Ltd of Dunamore Road, Cookstown.

Defending solicitor, Mr Ciaran MacLochlainn, claimed his clients have been ‘seriously prejudiced’ by failings in the investigation.

He told Judge Paul Kelly, at an earlier hearing, that an engineer travelled to Burnfoot Garda Station to inspect the lorry. However, he was informed that the keys of the locked vehicle had been lost and that the wheel nuts had also gone missing.

At last week’s sitting of the court, Sgt Collins told Judge Kelly that Gardai had found the nuts but were still trying to locate the keys.

“I would like to ask for one last opportunity, I’m sure the keys will turn up somewhere,” he said.

Asked about the importance of gaining access to the cab, Mr MacLochlainn said that is where a log book containing vital information in relation to maintenance of the wheels is located.

“On the morning of the accident, the driver left Armagh and drove to Muff and, for some unexplained reason, the wheel came off without any warning to anyone,” he told the judge.

“That’s accepted by the Garda Public Service Vehicles (PSV) Inspector. There are charges in relation to a dangerously defective vehicle, so there’s an allegation that there’s some level of knowledge on my clients’ part. However, the wheel nuts were examined before the driver set out on his journey and this was logged in the book that’s contained in the cab.”

Asking the judge to dismiss the charges, Mr MacLochlainn said there’s a ‘serious civil element’ to the case and that ‘maybe’ the matter should be left to the civil courts.

Judge Paul Kelly adjourned the matter to the June 15 sitting of the court, to allow the State time to give access to the vehicle and its contents.