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Body of young girl 'concealed' by herd of cows following fatal Kerry crash, court hears

14-year-old Caitlin Taylor died after the car in which she was a passenger left the road near Scartaglen, Co Kerry, on a night in June 2014.

9 The R577 at Scartaglen, Co Kerry Source: Google Maps

THE BODY OF a 14-year-old girl was concealed by a herd of cows in a field shortly after the car in which she had been a passenger left the road on a June night in 2014, the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee has been told.

Caitlin Taylor of Mallow, Co Cork, had been a passenger in the Toyota Yaris driven by Sarah O’Connell (now aged 24), also of Mallow.

Also in the car was the 18-month-old daughter of O’Connell. She was found, unharmed, and still strapped into her booster seat at the back of the badly-damaged car in the dark low-lying field sometime after 11 pm that night.

O’Connell denies a charge of careless driving causing the death of Taylor on Sunday, 15 June 2014 at Knockeenahone, Scartaglen, Co Kerry.

Prosecuting counsel informed the court that the charge of careless driving causing death was not a charge of  dangerous driving causing death, and was a lesser charge.

A jury of seven women and five men have been sworn in for the trial.

Day one of the trial heard how the car was on its way from Mallow and was on the R577 road midway between Ballydesmond and Scartaglen when the accident occurred.

‘Thrown from vehicle’

Tom Rice, prosecuting, said the prosecution alleged that as the car approached a left-hand bend it crossed a continuous white line, mounted a ditch and went into a field lower than the road.

“Ms Taylor was thrown from the vehicle and sustained fatal injuries at the scene,” Rice said.

The car had sustained damage to its front, roof, rear and passenger side and the front and back windscreens were both absent, Garda Mary Linnane told the court.

She agreed with Mark Nichols SC, defending, that the ditch mounted by the car was a low ditch, a grass mound.

Garda Linnane also agreed the car had been going slightly downhill, following the natural contour of the land, and the land inside the low ditch was lower than the road.

Witness Peter Madden had been coming from Dingle and was on his way to Mallow on the night in question. He was listening to music in his jeep when he came across a girl in a state of distress on the side of the road who waved at him to stop.

The girl was on the phone to “a man” who turned out to be the emergency services and she told him:

“I was in a crash,” she said. “My friend is in the field.”

Madden said he went into the field where he found a car. He could only open the back door and was surprised to see an infant child sitting quietly in the child seat in the back of the car. He believed this was the “friend” in question, but the young woman insisted her friend was still in the field, he agreed with Rice.

Herd of cattle

Madden told how the lifeless body had been discovered in the middle of a herd of cattle and how the animals were concealing the body.

O’Connell was distraught, in a daze, and was injured. She kept calling out for her “friend” and kept saying she was in the field, witness Marion Dennehy said. Dennehy had been on her way from Currow Castleisland and had her two sons with her. She said that O’Connell was sitting on the side of the road dressed in riding gear and riding boots.

Dennehy ​and her son Adrian arrived at the crashed vehicle and presumed the baby inside was the friend in question, she said. Her younger son Cian joined them ​in the field at the location of the crashed car.

In a statement read to the court by Rice, Cian Dennehy said: “I glanced over and saw all the cows had gathered and I knew there must be something.”

Cian had scattered the cattle, the jury were told. The girl was lying in the field, five to ten metres in front of the car, with the car windscreen alongside her.

Marion Dennehy performed CPR on Taylor until paramedics arrived.

Paramedic Kenneth O’Sullivan who arrived at the scene at 11.37pm, found the baby in the rear seat alert and with a good colour. Around 20 feet from the car Caitlin Taylor was found. She was not breathing and had no pulse.

The trial presided over by Judge Thomas E O’Donnell continues.

Comments are closed as the case is before the courts

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Anne Lucey

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