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Ulster bin lorry man weeps as he is cleared of killing little boy chasing tennis ball

A Co Donegal refuse lorry driver cleared of killing a toddler by dangerous driving sobbed as a jury found him not guilty.

Alex McDaid (60), of Bomany, Letterkenny, had faced a two-and-a-half day trial and had denied causing the death of Patrick McDonagh by dangerous driving in the Ballymacool Housing estate in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, in February 2010.

The trial heard how Mr McDaid had reversed his lorry into a cul-de-sac where the boy lived.

The three-year-old boy's father Patrick Snr told the trial of how his son had chased after a tennis ball on to the road and had shouted 'stop stop' as the lorry went over him. The boy's twin Megan was also at the scene.

Yesterday it took a jury of six men and six women an hour to find Mr McDaid not guilty.

As the jury foreman read the verdict to the court, Mr McDaid burst into tears and sobbed loudly, his wife and family members hugging him.

Mr McDonagh and his wife Shirley looked to the floor of the courtroom before leaving without making comment.

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They had left their home after the incident and moved to a new house in Bundoran.

Mr McDaid had admitted a separate charge of driving without a valid driver's licence.

The father of five had been a driver with Ferry's Refuse for 12 years prior to the fatal incident.

The prosecution had alleged that he had not driven his eight-metre truck safely and could have done so had an assistant at the back of the bin lorry directed him properly.

However, defence lawyers had argued that the incident was a tragic accident with Mr McDaid weeping as he recalled the horror of realising he had killed a child.

Patrick Jnr had died from horrific brain injuries.

Judge John O'Hagan described the case as "a power house of emotion" and thanked the jury, excluding them from jury service for five years.

Defence counsel Christopher Meehan then addressed the judge on the charge of driving without a valid driver's licence.

He told the judge: "Mr McDaid acknowledges he should have had a driving licence on him. This has been a very severe effect on him.

"Since that day he has not driven a vehicle, not even socially and he no longer maintains a job because of the damage this incident has caused him.

"He lives with this every day."

Judge O'Hagan imposed a €100 fine on the driving licence charge.

Mr McDaid left the court, wiping away tears.

Source Irish Independent

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