Coroner and solicitor clash over inquest evidence instruction

A solicitor and South Donegal Coroner Dr Diarmuid Hegarty have clashed during an inquest into a death of a pedestrian who was struck by a car last year.

43 year-old Grahame Manoe, who was home in Bridgetown, Laghey, from the Caribbean island of St Maarten to visit his mother in hospital, died when he was struck by a car driven by Diageo rep David Richards from Ardeevin, Rossnowlagh.

The accident happened close to Laghey, on the N15, on November 1st, 2008.

The inquest in Donegal town heard how Mr Richards searched the roadside with only the light from his mobile phone to assist him when he realised he struck a pedestrian who suddenly appeared in front of him.

The disagreement with the coroner happened when Mr Richards’ solicitor, Paudge Dorrian, said he had instructed the motorist not to give evidence. Dr Hegarty and solicitor Denis O’Mahony, for Mr Manoe’s family, expressed surprise and both said Mr Richards should be available to answer questions.

But Mr Dorrian said the coroner had no authority to force a witness to give evidence. The solicitor agreed, however, that a deposition given by Mr Richards could be read into the record.

Mr Richards said in the statement he had been driving at 60 mph when a figure suddenly appeared in front of him and his car struck him.

The jury returned a verdict in accordance with medical evidence that Mr Manoe died from multiple injuries as a result of involvement in a road traffic accident.