Woman ordered to pay £50,000 damages to widow of man killed in Co Down car crash
A woman is to pay £50,000 in damages to the widow of another motorist fatally injured in a road crash in Co Down, a High Court judge ruled today.
Mr Justice Stephens held that Sandra Murray was driving too fast when she lost control of her car and collided with Leslie Browne's vehicle in July 2010.
Mr Browne died just over a month after the accident occurred in wet conditions on the road between Newry and Hilltown.
His wife, Elizabeth Browne, sued both Ms Murray and Michal Marczak, who was behind the wheel of another car at the time.
The collision occurred near a section of sharps bends known as the Seven Sisters.
Ms Murray was behind the wheel of a Toyota Yaris heading towards Newry when it spun across the road, resulting in a collision with Mr Browne's Renault Megane heading in the opposite direction.
She claimed to have lost control of her car because it was struck from behind by a Fiat Punto being driven by Mr Marczak, a Polish national.
But he denied any collision between their vehicles, asserting instead that the accident was caused by a combination of the wet surface and Ms Murray's inattention, excessive braking and speed round a bend.
With damages agreed at £50,000, the case centred on determining liability.
Although the judge held that Mr Marczak had been travelling too close behind the Yaris, he said there was no damage to support claims of a collision.
Instead, Mr Justice Stephens concluded that Ms Murray's car had not been hit by the Punto.
"I consider that it reflects the fact that the first defendant did not and does not know what happened so that she grasped at anything that might exonerate her," he said.
The fact she was unaware of other cars in the vicinity also pointed to her being inattentive, according to the judge.
He added: "I consider that the first defendant (Ms Murray) decided to brake excessively at the same time as correcting the line that she was following and that this led to the loss of control of the Yaris."
Rejecting claims about her speed at the time, he held that the car was travelling faster than 27-37mph before she lost control.
"In short, it was an excessive speed in the circumstances," he said.
"In enter judgment for the plaintiff against the first defendant for £50,000."
With Mr Marczak successfully defending the claim against him, the judge ordered Ms Murray to pay his costs and those of Mrs Browne.