Man jailed over fatal 190kmh car race on rural road
Published 24/02/2010 | 05:00
TWO men raced each other in sports cars at speeds of over 190kmh along a rural road, which led to a collision killing one of them, a court heard yesterday.
Joe O'Leary (38), of Lurgoe, Killenaule, Co Tipperary, caused the fatal crash that left Raymond Cunningham (24) dead and injured three children -- including his own son -- when he overtook Mr Cunningham while speeding.
O'Leary's car ploughed into the gable end of a house shortly after the two-car collision, seriously injuring a nine-year-old boy who was playing hide-and-seek at the time.
O'Leary was jailed for two years after he admitted dangerous driving causing the death of Mr Cunningham and two counts of dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm to Jack Costello (9) and David McGeer (13).
The tragedy was the culmination of a series of events on the night of July 12, 2008, which started when O'Leary was driving his black Audi A5 towards Cashel, with his son and his son's friend as passengers.
When they saw Mr Cunningham -- who the accused didn't know well -- driving a red Audi TT in the opposite direction, O'Leary's son passed a comment about the other car being "cool", a garda said.
O'Leary then turned around and followed Mr Cunningham for 3km, before attempting an overtaking manoeuvre that led to the fatal collision.
He was travelling at between 190 and 240kmh at the moment of impact at about 9.47pm.
The two high-performance cars hit each other close to where Jack Costello's extended family were having a gathering at the house of Bridget Costello near Rosegreen, Cashel.
The children were playing hide-and-seek in the garden when O'Leary's car flew through the air, crashed into the house's gable end and landed on top of Jack.
A victim impact statement read out on behalf of the Costello family told how Jack's father, John, had to get a forklift truck to lift the car from his son and was initially convinced he was dead. "Stay with us Jack, don't leave us," he cried as attempts were made to revive him.
O'Leary, a stud farm worker, apologised in court for his "scandalous" behaviour on the night and said he deserved whatever he got.
O'Leary's son, who was travelling in the front passenger seat, was also injured while his friend, back-seat passenger David McGeer, suffered serious injuries and now has the use of just one kidney as a result.
Judge Thomas Teehan imposed a two-year sentence for dangerous driving causing death, along with two 18-month sentences for the causing bodily harm offences, all to run concurrently. He also banned O'Leary from driving for 12 years.