29 May 2022

Three Kilkenny people jailed for staged road 'accident', two others get suspended sentences

Five people who admitted staging a road 'accident' over six years were sentenced at Kilkenny Circuit Court this afternoon.

Michael Cawley, Linton Court, Kilkenny; Ann Cawley, 13 Oak Terrace, Lisduggan, Co Waterford; Bernard Cawley, 49 Assumption Place, Kilkenny; John Carthy, 49 St Kieran's Crescent and Anne Bourke, Lintown Grove, Johnswell Road, Kilkenny all pleaded guilty to a single charge of deception.

Sergeant John Shortall gave evidence that initially all five pleaded not guilty to the charge and that a trial started in February 2020 but that they changed their plea three days later.

The sergeant told the court that at 12.30am on November 10, 2014 gardaí received a call reporting a single vehicle traffic accident with multiple casualties on the outskirts of Mullinavat in Co Kilkenny.

Emergency personnel including gardaí, fire service and ambulances and paramedics attended the scene.

When gardaí arrived they observed a red Volkswagon Golf parked on the road side with the front wheel up on the bank.

There was a female, Anne Bourke (34) in the passenger seat. John Carthy (34) was sitting behind the passenger seat, Bernard Cawley was sitting in the middle and Michael Cawley (30) was sitting behind the driver.

Sgt Shortall said that all four were complaining of back and neck injuries and that Bernard Cawley (25) looked to be unconscious.

Glass was missing from all the windows except for the driver's window and there was damage to the bumper of the car and both headlights were smashed.

"It was unusual, I saw no glass on the ground, despite all the glass being missing," said Sgt Shortall.

The sergeant said that Anne Bourke had a number of lacerations to her thigh including 'one, long, linear one'.

Michael Cawley had a deep laceration to his arm which was also long and linear and John Carthy had a long, deep laceration to his right thigh.

The court heard that because the four passengers had complained of spinal injuries the roof of the car needed to be cut off by the fire crews.

The driver of the car, Ann Cawley (57), the mother of Bernard and Michael Cawley and Anne Bourke told gardaí that she had severe chest pain and reported that caused her to lose control of the car.

Sgt Shortall said that Bernard Cawley was 'coming in and out of consciousness'.

"The ambulance personnel believed he was not unconscious," he said.

The sergeant said that he could not see what caused all the lacerations.

"Car glass could not cause an injury like that," he said.

The sergeant also said that the glass was located on the seats of the car and that there was no glass on the road.

"There was a considerable amount of glass on the driver's seat which was very unusual as the window was not broken. I could not reconcile how the glass was where it was. My view was that the glass was broken from the outside.

"It is very unusual for all the glass to be missing from three windows and that all the glass was inside. In my opinion they had sat in on top of the glass. The only way I could see for the glass to be under the passengers was that the glass was broken and they had sat on it," he said.

Sgt Shortall said that it looked like the bumper had been broken off from 'blows of downward pressure'.

The court heard that a large rock with red paint on it was found in a nearby field but it could not be established if the paint on the rock was from the vehicle.

Gardaí were of the view that the rock was removed from a wall and used to break the windows.

"The front wheels were steered towards the ditch which was unusual. Normally people recoil from danger.

"I could see nothing in the approach path that would indicate that braking had occured. Gardaí were of the view that there was never an accident," added Sgt Shortall.

Three fire tenders attended the scene along with two ambulances from Kilkenny and ambulances from Carlow and Waterford and three patrol cars from Mooncoin, Graignamanagh and Thomastown.

In total 32 emergency personnel attended the scene along with five others in a support capacity.

The four passengers were all treated at Waterford University Hospital and all brought personal injury claims.

Sergeant Shortall said that he 'flagged concerns at the scene' and that the ambulance and firecrews had concerns as to how the injuries reported could have occurred given the very minimal impact.

The vehicle was insured on the day in question to Ann Cawley, who did not make a claim.

All the four claims were supported by medical reports and stated that all four continued to suffer injuries relating to the injury.

Three claims were before the circuit court and one claim before the High Court.

Gardaí commenced an investigation once they became aware of the claims.

AXA were aware from an early stage that there were concerns over the claim and did not pay out and said that they would vigorously contest any claims. The claims were discontinued by the parties in December 2020.

The cost to AXA is €18,512.49 for defending the proceedings.

Probation reports were handed into court on behalf of all five defendants. Pleas in mitigation were made which included that none of them benefitted financially and that they apologised for their actions.

Judge Cormac Quinn convicted all five of deception and at sentencing said that it is 'appropriate that should be an element of deterence'. He sentenced Ann Cauley, a 57-year-old mother of six to two years and three months and suspended the sentence on condition that she enter a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour an co-operate with her mental health regime for 12 months.

Judge Quinn sentenced Ann Bourke to two and a half years and said that in view of her personal circumstances, probation report and that she was the sole carer for her three children he would suspend the sentence on condition that she enter a bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour and remain under the supervision of the Probation Services for 12 months.

Judge Quinn convicted Bernard Cawley, Michael Cawley and John Carthy and sentenced each of them to two and a half years in prison. He suspended the final 18 months for a period of two years on condition that they be of good behaviour in prison and for two years post release and that they remain under the supervision of the Probation Services for 12 months post release.


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