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Truck driver showed ‘no mercy’ over man’s death, court hears

The father of a man killed in a road accident involving an articulated lorry has told the High Court the truck driver showed no mercy to him and his family over the death.

Liam Norris, father of Graham Norris, was giving evidence in Stephen Kelly’s case alleging defamation in a Sunday World article published in July 2009.

Mr Kelly (36), from the Rower in Kilkenny, was cleared in 2007 by a jury at Waterford Circuit Court of dangerous driving causing the death of Mr Norris (26) on October 12th, 2005.

Mr Norris’s car crashed into the lorry when the larger vehicle had to go on to the wrong side of the road to make a turn into a forest where Mr Kelly was going to pick up timber as part of his job.

Mr Kelly claims the Sunday World article meant, among other things, he conducted himself in a manner at the criminal trial which was false and misleading. Sunday Newspapers, publisher of the Sunday World, denies defamation.

Funeral

On Tuesday, Mr Norris said he was 100 per cent happy with quotes attributed to him in the article and believed what he had said. These included a quote that said Mr Kelly showed “no mercy” to the Norris family, had not attended the funeral or sent a Mass card.

Asked by Declan Doyle SC, for Mr Kelly, if he accepts now Mr Kelly wrestled with the question of whether to go to the funeral or contact the family, Mr Norris said he did not.

Asked was it still his position Mr Kelly was a person of no mercy, he replied: “If he had mercy, I would not be here today”.

Earlier, Mr Norris told Mr Doyle he accepted during Mr Kelly’s dangerous driving trial that Mr Kelly’s lawyers asked that an apology be passed on to the Norris family.

Mr Norris said he himself never heard that being said.

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He agreed there had been no suggestion at that trial that his son was responsible for the accident.

“Where we live, if one person is not responsible, then the other is,” he said.

No apology

Victor Norris, Graham’s brother, said he had no recollection of Mr Kelly offering to go to his parents when the two of them happened to meet in a petrol station about a year after the accident.

Mr Norris said Mr Kelly also offered no apology, as Mr Kelly had claimed.

He had no recollection of having said to Mr Kelly that it was “too late” at that stage to make an apology, Mr Norris added.

He disagreed, under cross-examination, his recollection of that conversation was flawed and Mr Kelly did say sorry.

Retired garda sergeant John McKnight, the investigating officer, told the court that in an interview shortly after the accident, he asked Mr Kelly if he had checked the lorry and trailer before heading out that morning and Mr Kelly said he had “just hopped in”.

Asked by Oisin Quinn SC, for the Sunday World, about his reaction when he heard Mr Kelly tell his trial he had checked the lights before heading off, Mr McKnight said: “I was shocked, he was giving evidence and I know what he had said”.

The case continues before a judge and jury.

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