Sunday 22 October 2017

Man jailed after dangerous driving leaves elderly motorist with severe injuries

Conor Gallagher

A man who crashed a stolen vehicle into an elderly motorist leaving him with severe injuries has been sentenced to seven and a half years in jail with the final two suspended.

Darren Walsh was speeding on the wrong side of the road in a stolen Mercedes when he collided head on with 71-year-old Noel Whelan. Mr Whelan’s small Fiat was forced into a bridge wall while the Mercedes went under an articulated lorry.

Mr Whelan was left “black and blue” and suffered several broken ribs and compressed vertebrae. He spent seven days in hospital including 15 hours on a trolley and he is still receiving treatment. He can no longer play golf but he has gotten a new car and is back driving.

The stolen Mercedes was written off. Its owners received no compensation as their insurance had expired the day before it was taken and the new policy was not due to start until the next day.

Walsh escaped from the wrecked car but was arrested nearby. He was on bail at the time for a robbery and attempted robbery where he threatened his victims with a hammer and a screwdriver.

Walsh (39) of Neilstown Drive, Clondalkin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving causing serious harm and use of a stolen vehicle at Newlands Road on May 11, 2012.

He also pleaded guilty to use of a stolen vehicle, robbery of the Topaz Station on Kylemore Road and attempted robbery of PC World in Liffey Valley, all on September 23, 2011.

He has 16 previous convictions and had just been released from a jail term for robbery, burglary and car theft at the time of the 2011 offences.

Defence counsel Vincent Heneghan BL said that when people like his client are released from prison there are no facilities in place to stop them re-offending.

He agreed when Judge Mary Ellen Ring said that surely “personal responsibility” has a role to play. He added that his client was a drug addict but has worked on this and has become drug-free while in custody.

Judge Ring sentenced him to consecutive sentences totalling seven and half years in prison but suspended the final two years. She backdated the sentence to December 15, 2011.He was also disqualified from driving for 25 years.

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