Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Man who killed friend in car crash travelling at twice the speed limit

A Polish man who killed his friend in a fatal car crash was “travelling far too fast” a lawyer has claimed.

The Belfast Crown Court jury of nine men and three women also heard the prosecution allege that according to an expert engineer, 27-year-old Robert Baranowski was driving at more than twice the 30mph speed limit when he crashed his Peugeot 206 in Ballysillan Park in February last year.

Tragically, his friend Dagmar Farkasova was thrown out of the car from the back seat and later died in hospital from a severe head injury.

Baranowski, from Deerpark Gardens in Belfast, denies causing her death on February 12 last year by dangerous driving.

Opening the case to the jury, prosecution lawyer David Russell told them that during the trial, they would hear from numerous witnesses how their attention was drawn to Baranowski's car as it came down the steep decline because of the noises the engine was making. He said that drivers in the oncoming lane noticed how Baranowski's car appeared to hit the kerb as the road narrowed at a traffic island before skidding into their lane, colliding with another Peugeot car and ploughing into a brick wall where it came to rest.

“What we say is that what is clear from the witnesses at the scene who saw the lead up to the collision... is that the accused was travelling far too fast for this road and for the circumstances in which he found himself on that road on this day,” claimed the lawyer.

The jury heard that during the police investigation, officers asked expert engineer Damien Coll to examine the scene and CCTV footage taken from police cameras in the area.

Mr Russell said from the footage, which would be played to the jury during the trial, Mr Coll had been able to see Baranowski's car as he drove up the Crumlin Road and turned into Ballysillan Park. He told the jury that while Mr Coll had calculated Baranowski's average speed on the Crumlin Road at 33mph, he had accelerated up to 55mph during the first 109 metres of Ballysillan Park.

The lawyer added, however, that in the 286 metres in the lead-up to the fatal impact, the Peugeot 206 had sped up to 63mph, just over twice the legal speed limit for the residential, built-up area.

Baranowski was arrested and interviewed about the fatal accident and he told officers he had been driving home from work when the collision happened.

He said while he could not remember the actual impact, he could recall hitting the kerb and the car being thrown to the right and the next thing he remembered was waking up in hospital.

However, Mr Russell told the jury that in the Crown case, Baranowski's driving had “fallen far below” the standard expected of a careful and competent driver.

“He was driving at greatly excessive speed, accelerating harshly from the Crumlin Road down Ballysillan Park, he failed to take account of the road and the circumstances ahead of him... and he failed to have any regard for himself or for the passengers who were in the car with him,” declared the lawyer.