Family 'carried out own inquiry'
Grieving relatives carried out their own investigation after a pensioner was knocked down and killed yards from his home in south Belfast, an inquest has heard.
John Joseph Gregory, 87, was struck by a car outside his front gate after attending mass at a nearby church. The driver, Kieran Murray, pleaded guilty to careless driving offences during criminal proceedings and turned up an hour late for an inquest hearing in Belfast where he refused to answer questions from the Coroner John Leckey.
Murray, aged in his 20s, replied "no comment" when asked about the speed at which he had been driving and why he had not seen the elderly man. As he left the witness box, Mr Gregory's daughters wept.
The widower and former plant worker died at the Royal Victoria Hospital on November 13 2010. He suffered multiple injuries including bruising on the brain and a laceration to the skull after being hit by a Vauxhall Vectra on Finaghy Road North.
His daughter Anne Murray told the hearing at Belfast's Old Town Hall: "We as a family had not been happy that nobody was going to be charged. We as a family carried out our own investigation and someone was charged. We paid to have copies of all the reports, paid our own forensic scientist."
The family said they disagreed with forensic calculations that the car had been travelling between 30mph and 40mph. Mrs Murray who also lives on Finaghy Road North said it was a notorious stretch of road.
"There have been a number of inquiries and investigations on that road because of accidents," she said. "Since Daddy's accident the road has been narrowed. It is known as being a very fast road. The speed limit is 30mph but cars on that road do normally travel a lot faster."
Mr Gregory was given CPR at the scene and underwent emergency surgery at the Royal Victoria Hospital where he received up to six units of blood. Medics said underlying heart disease, which had caused two previous heart attacks, rendered him less likely to recover. There were no traces of alcohol in his blood at the time of death.
The court heard that the Vauxhall Vectra had been kitted out with some tinted windows and Mr Gregory's family also claimed the steering wheel had been altered. Eye witnesses said it had been dark at the time of the crash but noted street lighting was working and the road conditions were dry. No-one reported hearing the screeching of brakes and there were no tyre marks on the road.
Coroner John Leckey extended his sympathies to the family., adding: "It seems that Mr Gregory got so close to successfully crossing the road. It is so dreadful that this happened when there was functioning street lighting and all the evidence points to there being a good view. Why he was struck by the car, there are issues about that." The cause of death was recorded as multiple injuries as a result of being struck by a car.