Belfast Telegraph

Man hit by cop car at fire scene was going to mum's home, officer's trial is told

By John Cassidy

A pedestrian knocked down by an armoured police vehicle attending an arson incident in Co Down has relived the moment the car reversed over the top of him, fracturing his leg.

Gary Smyth was giving evidence on the second day of the trial of PSNI officer John Wright at Downpatrick Crown Court.

Constable Wright (42), with an address at Downpatrick PSNI station, denies a single charge of careless driving by causing grievous bodily injury to Mr Smyth in the town's Meadowlands estate on August 31, 2014.

In the witness box yesterday, Mr Smyth said that on that day he had spent the afternoon drinking in two local bars before heading back to his house in Meadowlands at around 6pm.

"I had one vodka and something to eat and then I fell asleep in the chair," he said. "I woke around 8pm when I heard noises coming from next door - the ones next door were arguing. I then went back to sleep in my chair."

He told the jury that at around 10.40pm he was woken from his sleep by banging on his front door by a policeman and his nephew, Conor Smyth.

"I was told that I had to leave the premises as there was a fire next door to me," he said. "I went down towards my sister's house but I came back because I realised that I had left a bit of money in the house. I tried to get back in but I didn't get as far as my house, as I was stopped by a policewoman.

"The policewoman shoved me down the steps towards the car park and I had to grab onto the railings. I got to the bottom of the steps and turned left towards my mum's house."

He told prosecution lawyer Laura Ivers that he was the only person walking in the car park at the time, which had several fire engines and police cars parked up.

"I didn't get to my mum's house," added Mr Smyth. "I was walking along towards her house when something collided into me from behind. I went down and my head banged onto the ground.

"I was lying there on my left side with my head up, and then I saw a car starting to reverse towards me and I said to myself: 'Oh f***, not again'. That's when I fell on my back.

"Then the back wheels of the car ran over my leg. I was in a lot of pain. I was bruised from the top of my leg to my toes."

Mr Smyth told the jury he heard the voices of some relatives who came to his aid.

Judge Sandra Crawford heard that Mr Smyth was taken by ambulance to the Royal Victoria Hospital for treatment to a fractured right tibia and left elbow and a wound to his leg. "I was in hospital initially for 17 days for my fractures," he said. "I was allowed home for a week but I had to go back for another six days for skin grafts to my knee. In total, I spent 23 days in hospital.

Under cross-examination by defence barrister Seamus Lannon, Mr Smyth denied he had not shown due care for the risk to his own life by trying to return to his house past a burning property.

Asked why he did not walk across a grass bank to his mother's house, he said: "I don't know. I just wanted to get to my ma's house. I walked towards the pathway to her house. That was my focus."

Mr Lannon asked the injured party if he could explain why he had not heard the diesel car. Mr Smyth replied: "I don't drive so I know nothing about cars. (It was) because I was walking in front of the car to get to my mother's."

The trial continues.

Belfast Telegraph


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