N7 crash: Solicitor accuses coroner of outrageous treatment of dead men’s families

A lawyer for the family of one of three men killed in a collision on the N7 in Dublin two years ago while fleeing gardaí has accused a coroner of treating the families of the deceased outrageously over her decision to grant an open-ended adjournment of an inquest into their deaths to allow for a prosecution of a garda over the fatal incident.

Solicitor Michael Finucane claimed the coroner, Dr Clare Keane, was “fundamentally in error” in granting an adjournment without fixing a date for the next hearing of the inquest without hearing any evidence.

He claimed the coroner’s ruling was “utterly deficient” in terms of her obligation under the European Convention on Human Rights to monitor the progress of a criminal prosecution in the case.

The three victims – Dean Maguire (29), Karl Freeman (26) and Graham Taylor (31) – were killed instantly when the BMW vehicle in which they were travelling burst into flames following a head-on crash with a truck between Citywest and Baldonnel on July 7th, 2021, while they were driving on the wrong side of the carriageway in an attempt to escape gardaí who were pursuing them.


Mr Finucane, who represents the Maguire family, claimed Dr Keane had failed the families of the dead men in her obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

During a tense exchange with the coroner, Mr Finucane remarked: “In terms of your function and your inquiry function, you could not have failed more starkly in your obligations to my clients and the families of the other deceased men.”

Criminal proceedings

Dr Keane granted an adjournment of the inquest at a sitting of Dublin District Coroner’s Court on Wednesday after a representative of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) informed the hearing that criminal proceedings had been instituted in relation to the case.

It emerged at a previous preliminary hearing of the inquest last month that a garda is to face a criminal prosecution in relation to his driving on the night that the three men were killed.

Media reports in the past 24 hours claimed the officer is to face charges of dangerous driving and endangerment.

At the start of the latest hearing, Gsoc official David Grant applied for an adjournment of the inquest under Section 25.2 of the Coroners Act on the basis that criminal proceedings had been instituted in the case.


Solicitor James MacGuill, for the Taylor family, interjected to say his clients were entitled to know the nature of the proceedings as “an issue of fairness”.

Mr MacGuill said the families should be informed if the garda was to face one or multiple charges.

“It is not an unreasonable request,” he added.

In response to the comments from the two solicitors, Dr Keane stressed the Coroner’s Court was not the forum for exploring the issue of criminal proceedings in the case.

The coroner also expressed concern that she did not want to open matters any further as they inevitably could lead to complications which might prejudice any related criminal prosecution.

She pointed out that a Gsoc-appointed family liaison officer should be able to communicate with the families of the deceased on the details of the charges.

Dr Keane acknowledged that it was “a very difficult situation” for the families of the three men, but she said the issue was not going to be resolved in the coroner’s court.


Garda to face criminal prosecution over fatal cras…

The decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute a garda in relation to his driving on the night of the fatal incident and the manner in which the details of the prosecution emerged in the coroner’s court has been sharply criticised by Garda representative bodies.

The general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, Antoinette Cunningham, said the way in which news of the prosecution of the garda was revealed was “simply wrong and unacceptable.”

Concern has also been voiced about the implication of the prosecution in terms of the ability of gardaí to conduct pursuits of individuals trying to flee them.

All three men, who had a combined total of over 200 convictions, were known to gardaí and were believed to be key figures in a burglary gang that was linked to ‘Fat’ Andy Connors – a crime gang leader who was shot dead outside his home in Saggart, Co Dublin in August 2014.