Monday 26 September 2016

Drunk driver who left young mum with brain injury jailed

Sonya McLean

Published 02/12/2015 | 02:30

Jayne Kearney outside court
Jayne Kearney outside court

A woman who was almost three times the legal limit when she knocked down a mother of two, leaving her with a brain injury, has been jailed for three years.

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Jayne Kearney (26) told gardaí she had intended to stay at the City West Hotel in Dublin that night rather than drive home, but she had a row with her boyfriend.

She drove off after she hit Blathnaid Molloy, who was walking towards the hotel entrance to get a taxi home.

Kearney, of Foxborough Downs, Lucan, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm and driving while intoxicated at City West on March 8, 2014.

Ms Molloy’s husband was in front of her that night, while her friend was walking behind her. The couple had been out celebrating their wedding anniversary at a fundraising event for the local GAA club. Kearney, who didn’t know the couple, had been at the same event.

Kearney has eight previous road traffic convictions including having no insurance, no tax and speeding. She left the scene of the crash, but was tracked down by gardaí.

Ms Molloy, who has no recollection of the accident, was left with a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain. She has a speech and hearing impairment as a result and suffers from dizzy spells.

In an emotional victim impact statement, Ms Molloy told how her injuries have devastated her life and at her lowest point left her wishing she had not survived as she felt it might have been easier for her loved ones to deal with “rather than the horrible life I have given them”.

Upon her release from hospital, she suffered extreme dizziness and all she could do was lie on her side without moving her head. She told how she missed her eldest’s son’s first day at school because she vomited every time she tried to move.

She could hear her husband explaining to the child that his mother was too sick to come with him before she heard “his little legs run up the stairs”.

She said her son hugged her very tightly and told her not to worry, that he would be back soon.

Ms Molloy said she was not able to care for her youngest child, who was 11 months old at the time of the crash, and said it had taken some time for her to re-establish their bond.

Ms Molloy said her husband did not go into the details of the crash with her and every time they began to speak of it, he started to cry, which she said broke her heart.

She said she understood “how close I was to the end” so she was happy “I am still here”.

“My life has changed forever, as has that of my loved ones. I will never forgive the person who did this to me.”

Ms Molloy said she now has a moderate brain injury, which she described as a “hidden disability” and people didn’t know how to deal with her. She added that, apart from school runs, she is largely confined to the house.

Judge Martin Nolan noted the “horrendous” effects of the incident on Ms Molloy and said aggravating factors in the case were that Kearney was over the limit and left the scene. Imposing a three-year sentence and disqualifying her from driving for three years, he said Kearney was a “genuinely good person” but that this was a “very, very serious fall from grace”.

The court heard that Kearney’s teenage brother died in a road traffic accident in 2009.

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