Court hears biker was doing 155km/h moments before fatal crash

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A BIKER was travelling at alleged speeds of “at least 155km per hour” moments before he came off his motorbike in a horror crash a short distance from Bunratty Castle in County Clare two years ago, an inquest has heard.

A Limerick driver, who gave eyewitness evidence, told the court how the motorbike driver had to break hard to try to avoid a car in the fast lane.

At the County Clare Coroner’s Court in Kilrush, the inquest heard that Miltown Malbay married father of young children, James Murphy (36), died instantaneously from multiple severe injuries in a crash on the N18 Clonmoney West at Bunratty on March 14, 2022.

Mr Murphy’s sister, Shauna, told the inquest in a deposition that before her brother left from collecting his motorbike from her County Limerick home that day, they chatted “about his friend being involved in a fatal collision a few days earlier”.

Limerick woman Emma Hourigan, who was driving her car in the slow lane at the time of the incident, told the inquest in her eyewitness testimony that when she saw and heard the speed at which the motorbike was “bombing it” in the fast lane behind her, she got “such a fright, I said ‘Oh Jesus’ out loud to the others in the car”.

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Ms Hourigan said as Mr Murphy’s motorbike went past her in the fast lane, a blue car in front of her started to veer over into the fast lane to overtake.

Ms Hourigan said that the car was less than halfway over the lane when the bike braked hard.

She said that the motorbike hit the boot of the blue car and went off to the left while the motorcyclist “was catapulted up into the air”.

Ms Hourigan stated that there was only two to three seconds from the time Mr Murphy braked to coming off the bike. She said there were no cars in the fast lane before impact.

However the driver of the Blue Skoda, Limerick college student Aimee Curran from Johnstown, County Kildare, said that she had been driving in the fast lane for three to four minutes before.

Ms Curran told Gardaí that she had obtained her driving licence just six or seven months before March 2022 and had not travelled that stretch of road before, adding that she was using Google Maps to get to her destination.

Ms Curran was bringing college friends to a party in Shannon and agreed that it was her first time to drive a car-load of people.

She agreed with counsel for the Murphy family, Lorcan Connolly BL, that she didn’t recall veering out of the slow lane to the fast lane before impact. Mr Connolly said that passengers in Ms Curran’s car also recalled being in the fast lane for minutes.

The crash occurred at around 4pm and off duty medical professional Barbara Slevin told the inquest she was on her way home from work from University Hospital Limerick (UHL) and went to the scene and performed CPR on Mr Murphy after being told that he had a slight pulse. However, after administering CPR, Ms Slevin could not find any pulse.

Ms Slevin told the inquest that the motorbike passed her out on the roadway earlier and she said “the speed of the bike struck me as it was unsafe”.

Mr Murphy was pronounced dead at the scene at 4.24pm. The inquest was told that there was no evidence of drugs or alcohol in Mr Murphy’s system and Ms Curran was also negative when tested at the roadside by Gardaí.

Mr Connolly told the inquest that the preponderance of evidence is that the accident occurred when the Skoda moved into the fast lane as Mr Murphy was travelling in the fast lane causing him to brake violently and the biker was thrown from the motorbike.

A Garda Forensic Collision Report estimated that the speed of Mr Murphy’s motorcycle “at the start of the locked wheel was not less than 155 km per hour”.

A post mortem found that Mr Murphy died from brain injuries consistent with a road traffic accident.

Clare County Coroner Isobel O’Dea found that the cause of death was in accordance with the medical evidence with injuries consistent with a road traffic accident.