81 year old man acquitted on dangerous driving charge

An 81 year old man charged with dangerous driving causing serious harm has been acquitted after a jury heard he passed out from taking blood pressure tablets.

William Barr crashed his car killing his wife and putting a little girl in a wheelchair after a horrific crash in Co Donegal in 2008.

Last evening, a jury at Letterkenny Circuit Court  found that William Barr was not in control of his car when it crashed in Dunlewey in May, 2008. Mr Barr’s defence team claimed he had fainted at the wheel as a result of taking blood pressure tablets and that he was "autonomous" during the crash.

Mr Barr's 83 year old wife Maggie died in the crash, which also left 4 year old Noirin Nic Gairbheith in a wheelchair for life after her spinal chord was severed.

Expert evidence given by retired Professor of Pharmacology Michael Ryan said it was possible that the drug Biscopine could have caused Mr Barr to faint while driving.

The court heard how Mr Barr had beEn on five different drugs to keep his blood pressure under control as he had suffered from hypertension and had cardiac trouble.

Mr Barr, of Middletown, Derrybeg, had ben put on the medication by his GP Dr Anthony Delap and had suffered a number of fainting incidents.

His dose of Biscopane had been increased from 10mgms to 15mgms and this may have contributed to him passing out at the wheel, said Professor Ryan.

The jury of seven men and three women took just fifteen minutes to return the ‘not guilty’ verdict in accordance with the claim that Mr Barr was ‘autonomous.’

Speaking after the case Barrister Peter Nolan said “This is a landmark case which will have ramifications for both the medical and legal profession.”