A LITHUANIAN man has appeared in court charged with causing the death of his friend by careless driving.
Giedrius Gasiunas (36) of Main Street, Swanlinbar in Cavan was brought before Strabane Magistrates Court on Thursday in connection with the death of Kristaps Smilskalns.
The two men had just set off on a fishing trip to celebrate Mr Smilskalns 25th birthday when the Seat Leon they were in collided with a Vauxhall Astra near Enniskillen on October 15.
As well as causing the death of his passenger, Gasiunas is also accused of inflicting grievous bodily injury upon the male and female occupants of the Astra.
The 36-year-old is further accused of having neither a licence nor insurance to drive the Leon.
Flanked by a member of the Prison Service and a Lithuanian interpreter, Gasiuanas listened intently as the details of the allegations against him were read out.
PSNI Constable Trevor Fletcher told the court the accused had been driving towards Enniskillen at around 2pm when he lost control and ploughed into the Astra.
Mr Smilskalns was rushed to South West Acute Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.
Gasiunas himself suffered several broken ribs and required surgery to remove his spleen.
Barrister Michael Forde applied for bail on behalf of his client however the PSNI said they would be strongly opposed to it.
Constable Fletcher said he had been in touch with the International Liaison Team about getting a positive identification on the defendant.
The officer said issues had arisen around previous offending by Gasiunas in other jurisdictions. He said it was the PSNI’s understanding that the accused had been convicted of offences in Lithuania back in 2012 but that he had left the country before those were finalised.
Enquiries into those convictions are still ongoing, the officer added.
During interview after the fatal collision Gasiunas told police he had a Ukrainian licence. A check of the Seat Leon was carried out but the licence could not be located.
“This gives us other enquiries with the authorities in the Ukraine to ascertain if he has a licence there as well as other identification issues in the country,” Constable Fletcher said.
The PSNI officer added that it was not normal practice to oppose bail in cases such as that before the court. With regard to Gasiunas though, there was a real concern that he would flee the country.
The defendant’s barrister pointed out that as it stood, and apart from a no insurance charge in the Republic of Ireland, there was not a “single shred of evidence” to link his client with any crime anywhere in Europe.
“This was a tragic incident where the deceased was a friend of the defendant. They were travelling together in the same car and unfortunately two other people were also seriously injured.
“The defendant himself was very seriously injured and will require medication and it would be my submission that Maghaberry Prison is not the ideal place for him to be,” he added.
District Judge Bonita Boyd said though that she was not satisfied Gasiunas would turn up for his trial.
The judge said, “There does appear to be some history of offending and there are travel documents that have to be checked. In all I think I am going to refuse bail because of the risk of flight.”
Giedrius Gasiunas will appear back in court in Enniskillen on November 21.
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