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Cyclist died after out-of-control dog ran out in front of him, court hears

Animal’s owner fined €625 after fatal crash

The  owner of a dog that ran out in front of a cyclist, causing him to crash and sustain fatal injuries, has been fined a total of €625 by a court in Ireland.

Michael Dunlea, aged 60, was fined €300 at Cork District Court for not having his dog under proper control in a public place,  reports

Cyclist Patrick O’Brien, aged 63, was killed after he crashed after swerving to avoid the Yorkshire Terrier when it ran out in front of him on the morning of 25 October 2020.

He had been cycling with two friends in Ballybrack, Carrignavar at around 43kph when the crash happened.

Dunlea, who said that “anything is possible” when it comes to animals, denied that his dog had caused the crash, but two cyclists who were riding with Mr O’Brien told the court what had happened and identified the dog.

One of the riders who was with Mr O’Brien, Jim Rocks, told the court that the dog had come from the right.

“I heard Pat falling off the bike and hitting the ground,” he said. “Pat was lying prone in the recovery position on the middle of the road. He was breathing. He was not responding. Blood was coming out of his nose and left ear.”

Eamon Shanahan, representing Dunlea, challenged him on whether it was indeed a dog.

“There are frequently rabbits and wildlife in the area,” he said. “Are you certain it was not a rabbit? A small rabbit can be like a Yorkshire Terrier.”

But Mr Rocks insisted: “It was definitely a dog that came across the road.”

His wife Lucy, who was also on the bike ride, also confirmed it was a dog.

“I saw a small dog dart out from a property,” she said. “First, Jim reacted. I reacted. I looked back and saw Pat react. For Pat to miss the dog he turned the handlebars and came off the bike. He was on the ground. He landed in a recovery position.

“The dog came out from under the fence at the end of the property. It is a small dog, it didn’t have to bend its head to get out under the fence,” she added.

Besides the €300 fine imposed for not having his dog under control, Dunlea was also fined a further €325 because the dog, and two others he was in charge of, were not licensed.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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ktache | 1 year ago

My deepest sympathies to the cyclists family and friends of course, especially given that the cyclist died whilst attempting to avoid the dog.

There are some dog owners who should really be looking after their animals better.

What I did find surprising was that the Republic still had dog licensing, but when looking up the cost I discovered that Northern Ireland still has dog licenses.

20euros yearly/140 lifetime and £12.50 respectively.

OldRidgeback | 1 year ago

It was a long time ago now, but I was knocked off my motorbike by a dog. The dog ran out in front of me and I ran over it, had a tankslapper and fell off. The bike fell onto my foot, crushing it, breaking all my toes and tearing the ligaments on one side of my ankle. I hasten to add this wasn't a little sidestreet, it was on the A3 in Clapham. The dog owner picked up his injured animal and departed, pronto, leaving me at the side of the road with a smashed foot and a smashed bike. A passerby called an ambulance and I ended up in A&E at St Georges.

I still get pain in my ankle from time to time. I cycle and I run a lot but the ankle does sometimes give way without warning. And it's often stiff and sore on cold days. 

I don't blame the animal. But the owner was an irresponsible idiot. I had to pay for the repairs to my motorbike for a crash I didn't cause and I've had decades of discomfort with my foot and ankle. Ironically, Had I been speeding I might have avoided the crash. A more powerful Yamaha was alongside me at the lights just before and its rider raced away. I trundled off more slowly (my bike had about half the power) and I was riding at the speed limit, which the person on the Yamaha definitely wasn't. He was off and away before the dog ran into the road.

Cycloid | 1 year ago


We are all responsible for our actions, letting a dog off the lead may seem like fun and freedom, but the consequences can be serious. The dog owner should be in control of the situation.
A few years ago I got bitten by an out of control dog whilst jogging. Small bight, police warning for the owner, but he is still walking his dog off the lead on the same path.
600 Euros does not reflect the value of a human life.

Peter Buckley - Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist was killed in similar circumstances in 1969 -

brooksby | 1 year ago


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