A judge in Cork has discharged the jury in the case of a man charged with dangerous driving causing the death of GAA commentator Paudie Palmer after it emerged that a juror had visited the scene of the crash over the weekend.
A mistrial was declared in the case of Bohdan Bezverkhyi (33), a Ukrainian national with an address at Rigsdale House, Ballinhassig, Co Cork. He had denied dangerous driving causing the death of the 65-year-old at Dunkereen Crossroads in Innishannon, Co Cork on December 29th, 2022.
Judge Colin Daly addressed the seven men and five women on the jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court shortly before lunchtime on Monday and asked them if a visit to the crash site had been made by one member. They confirmed through the foreman that it had.
Judge Daly said that such a visit had been in breach of the duties of the jury. He indicated that a verdict could not be reached in a “proper way” as they had broken their oath.
“I warned you that you were only to rely on the evidence. It is very obvious that we cannot have a fair trial,” he said.
A sworn jury minder had indicated that he overheard a conversation among jurors about one member of the jury having visited the crash site. The garda said the juror had made certain conclusions about the crash that he discussed with his fellow jurors. This resulted in the jury being questioned about the matter.
The jurors had retired to deliberate shortly after 11am last Friday. They were sent home at 5.20pm on Friday and resumed their deliberations on Monday morning.
The prosecution case had been that Mr Bezverkhyi drove through a stop sign and struck Mr Palmer whilst drunk behind the wheel.
Mr Bezverkhyi pleaded guilty to other charges relating to the same incident including that he failed to report the incident to gardai, failed to offer assistance to the injured person, failed to stop and that he left the scene of the crash.
Mr Bezverkhyi also pleaded guilty to a charge of dangerous driving in a separate incident in Curraheen in Co Cork on December 28th, 2022.