Family tell of anger as drunk driver who killed boy (4) has jail term cut
Published 25/10/2016 | 02:30
A drunk driver jailed for the death of a four-year-old boy has had 18 months cut from his jail term after an appeal.
Finbarr O'Rourke (41) had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Ciarán Treacy (4) at Ballymorris, Portarlington, on April 17, 2014. Ciarán's mother Gillian was also severely injured in the crash.
Judge Keenan Johnson sentenced O'Rourke to seven-and-a-half years' imprisonment at Portlaoise Circuit Criminal Court on November 3, 2015.
The Court of Appeal re-sentenced O'Rourke to eight years' imprisonment with the final two suspended yesterday following an appeal.
Giving judgment in the three-judge court, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said Mrs Gillian Treacy was driving her car on the R419 between Portlaoise and her home in Portarlington, Co Laois, on the afternoon in question.
At Ballymaurice she was confronted with a Toyota Avensis crossing the road that collided head on with her vehicle.
That car was being driven by O'Rourke, of Laurel Drive, Portlaoise, Co Laois, who was seen slouched over his steering wheel by Mrs Treacy shortly before the crash.
Mrs Treacy suffered very serious injuries, and despite the best efforts of emergency services, her young son Ciarán, aged four, died that evening at Portlaoise Hospital.
Forensics suggested that O'Rourke did not brake and that his vehicle was being driven at 86kmh in an 80kmh zone.
After the crash, Mrs Treacy remembered O'Rourke coming over to her vehicle.
However, he walked away and was met on the road by gardaí in a distressed state and arrested.
He untruthfully told gardaí that he had consumed two glasses of wine.
On being informed that the young boy, Ciarán had died, he smashed his head through a glass window in the Garda station.
O'Rourke had drank between eight to 10 pints of cider over a few hours on the day of the crash.
In their victim impact statement, Mrs Treacy detailed her own "life threatening and life long" injuries, including four serious fractures, severe cuts, and her five-week stay in hospital.
O'Rourke's barrister said that the sentence was too high and not enough credit was given for due mitigation.
The Court of Appeal was satisfied there was an error in principle by the Circuit Court judge in placing the headline sentence, primarily because of the absence of prolonged period of dangerous driving or excessive speed.
In a statement read outside court, John Browne, on behalf of the Treacy family, said: "Words cannot express their anger, their grief or their revulsion towards the drunk driver who robbed Gillian and Ronan of their beloved son" and their children "of the brother they deserved but now will never have".
"The family want to acknowledge the court's decision, which they hope will act as a warning and a deterrent to others."