Belfast Telegraph

Centenarian 'hit by reversing taxi'

A 100-year-old man died after being knocked over by a taxi at the entrance to his care home, a coroner has found.

Grainger McIldoon, who was just six days short of his 101st birthday, had been walking with the aid of a three-wheel stroller in the car park of Tennent Street Residential Home off the Shankill Road in north Belfast when the incident happened.

The retired engineering worker from Belfast struck his head on the road and died a day later in the Mater Hospital.

At the widower's inquest on Thursday at Belfast Coroner's Court, Northern Ireland's senior coroner John Leckey heard differing accounts of the fatal incident in July 2008.

A lawyer for Peter Bradford, the driver of the silver Mercedes Value Cab taxi involved, said his client denied hitting either Mr McIldoon or his stroller. Noting the pensioner had a medical history of falls, the solicitor speculated that he had fallen over and hit his head as he walked behind the taxi. "My client instructs that he didn't strike the deceased or the walking aid," said the lawyer.

Mr Bradford did not give evidence to the inquest hearing but answers he gave to police at the time were read to the court.

"I looked behind me and checked my mirrors, there was nobody there," he said. The driver passed a breath test carried out at the scene.

But a fellow resident of the home Christina Langridge, who was watching out the window of the smoking room, said she clearly saw the car reversing back and hitting Mr McIldoon's stroller, causing him to fall back. Ms Langridge was unable to attend court but her statement to police was read into the record.

Police forensic specialist Dr Emerson Callender said he had examined three possible scenarios: that the taxi hit the pensioner; that he fell as he tried to avoid the reversing vehicle; and that his fall and the taxi reversing were not linked. He said he was unable to determine which was the more likely.

Mr Leckey said the standard of proof in a coroner's court was based on the balance of probabilities and on that basis he believed Mr McIldoon had been knocked down by the reversing taxi. He said he accepted the evidence of Ms Langridge that the vehicle had struck the stroller, knocking him backwards onto the road.

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