Monday 24 November 2014

Violent criminal won't serve extra jail time for hit & run death of Conor (14)

*Conor Hickey was just 14 years of age when killed
*Court was told that Ruadhan Tracey (33) was on his way to buy drugs on Dec 2, 2011
*Tracey knocked down the schoolboy in a hit & run and left scene as Conor lay dying
*Family requested their son's organs be donated to save lives of other people
*The 20 months will be served alongside 10 year jail term for spate of violent robberies
*'No day goes by when I don't ask myself the question why, why did this happen?' says Conor's mum

Declan Brennan

Published 12/03/2014 | 17:06

Conor Hickey's Father John Hickey with friends and family leaving Dublin Circuit Criminal Court Pic: Collins Courts.
Conor Hickey's Father John Hickey with friends and family leaving Dublin Circuit Criminal Court Pic: Collins Courts.

A DRUG addict who was on his way to buy drugs when he fatally injured a 14-year-old boy in a hit and run has received a 20 month prison sentence.

When gardai arrested Ruadhan Tracey (33) two months after the incident he told them he knew it was because he had knocked the boy down, saying: "Conor Hickey, I will never forget that name."

Tracey has 36 previous convictions.

Last July Judge Mary Ellen Ring imposed a ten year jail term, with two years suspended for a spate of armed robberies including one in which he left a shop worker in need of 24-hour care after stabbing him with a syringe.

These offences were carried out after the hit and run.

The twenty month term will run alongside the ten year sentence meaning he will serve no extra time in prison.

The maximum penalty available to the court for careless driving causing death is two years and the maximum penalty for leaving the scene of an accident is six months.

Tracey of Lagore Green, Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to careless driving causing the death of Conor Hickey at Fassaugh Road on December 2, 2011. He also admitted a charge of failing to remain at the scene of that accident.

Today, Judge Ring said she was bound by the legislation and said that she must also give credit to Tracey for entering a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity and his genuine remorse expressed at a very early stage.

She said: "He has to live with the consequences of being a man who drove a vehicle which killed a boy. He wasn't even man enough to stay or present himself."

Conor Hickey.jpg

Conor Hickey

She imposed concurrent sentences of four months for the hit and run offence and 20 months for the careless driving causing death.

Tracey told gardai after his arrest that he felt numb since he learned on the news that the boy died. He claimed the lights were green and said: "I took my eye off the road for one second and then bang. I saw a shadow. I didn't think it was a person".

He told them he looked back and saw the commotion on the road but didn't stop because he had no insurance and no tax on the car.

He said he panicked and went on to collect the drugs he had set out to collect in the city. He said he “got f***** up” but was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he hit the boy.

John Hickey, the victim's father, said that his son's death has hit the family like a tsunami and has left a trail of destruction.

Reading from a victim impact report from the family he said: “Before December 2011 life for my family was very different and as close to perfect as you could get. Conor was in second year preparing for his Junior Certificate.

“It’s impossible to describe the effects a tragedy like this does to a family. It’s like a tsunami that hits a family. It takes everything away in a flash.

“To say it’s a family’s worst nightmare to lose a child, I cannot think of anything else that could devastate a family more”.

His mother Margaret Hickey said she feels a pain in her chest which no pills can cure.

In their victim impact statement she said: "No day goes by when I don't ask myself the question why, why did this happen?"

Conor Hickey1s father John.jpg

Conor Hickey's Father John Hickey with friends and family leaving Dublin Circuit Criminal Court  Pic: Collins Courts.

The boy's sister Claire wrote: "Conor wasn't just a brother but also my best friend. Since December 2, 2011 my life has changed forever. I've the biggest hole in my heart . I struggle to concentrate in college.

"Conor was such an amazing character. No justice will return our Conor to his family. I feel we have a life sentence for the rest of our natural lives."

Detective Garda John Brady told Pieter LeVert BL, prosecuting, that the victim had finished school that Friday and went straight to a local library to do his homework. He said that he went home at around four o'clock to eat his dinner and do his household chores before going out to meet up with friends.

A short time later his mother heard an ambulance and commented that she hoped no-one would be getting a knock on their door. Shortly afterwards a neighbour called around and told her Conor had been hit. The family went to Temple Street Children's Hospital where doctors told them he had suffered severe brain damage.

Mrs Hickey cried in court as Det Gda Brady said that the following day a brain scan revealed there was no brain activity. He said the family made the decision to turn off the life support system at 3.40pm on September 4. His parents asked for his organs to be donated.

A post mortem revealed that the child died as a result of head injuries.

Traumatised witnesses who were in cars at the junction of Faussagh road told gardai they saw the boy waiting to cross the street. They said the lights were in their favour and he was free to cross the street.

They said the car was travelling at speed and that it came out of nowhere and hit the young boy as soon as he put his foot on the road.

Witness John Blake said: "It was like a car came out of nowhere. I had a good view of the road so it must have been flying." He said the boy was hit without warning and the car didn't appear to slow down or brake.

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Padraic Dwyer SC, defending, said his client had a chronic drug addiction. He said Tracey was sorry for the grief he has caused the Hickey family and if he could take back his actions he would.

Judge Ring said Tracey had gone on a rampage of robberies after the road collision.

As Tracey was led away by prison officers a member of the public shouted "Shame on you,  scumbag".

Tracey told gardai that he didn’t see the boy hitting the car. 

"It was like a football, a kid kicking a football hitting the door. I didn't see him at all. The first time I seen him I seen his face in the Evening Herald,” he said

He said he blamed himself for it because he had lost concentration.

“Instead of facing up to it I ran,” he said. He said his drug addiction was the root of all his problems and the reason he was on the road that day.

Det Garda Brady told the court that after a crime scene investigation and the viewing of CCTV footage, gardai identified a silver Astra as the suspect vehicle.

The following January Gda Robert Butler saw a car matching this description while on duty in Dunshaughlin and seized it as evidence. He also spoke to Tracey.

The owner of the car was a former partner of Tracey and when gardai called to her home she told them that Tracey had confessed to her.

She told him the two of them were drug users and that his drug habit had become very bad since November. She said that just before Christmas they had a strange conversation where he asked her: “What would you do if I killled someone?” before saying he was messing.

He later told her that he hit the boy while he was on a trip into Dublin city where he was going to get tablets. He told her the lights were green but that “with me being a drug addict and my past record no-one will believe me”.

Another man who was in the car told gardai he told Tracey to stop after the collision. He said Tracey was panicing and picked up speed and they went and brought drugs.

He claimed Tracey was “very torn up” about it and they “freaked out” when they heard the news that the boy had died.

Last July the court heard that Tracey held up nine shops, eight of them within a five week period around Christmas 2011. Most incidents followed a similar pattern. He would enter the shop, threaten to give staff “the virus” and then flee with money from the register.

He pleaded guilty to 20 counts of robbery, attempted robbery, possession of a syringe and using a syringe to threaten at different locations in Dublin and Meath. The offences in Dublin took place between December 16, 2011 and July 28, 2012 at various shops around the city.

His previous convictions also include a recent sentencing in June for which he got a three-year sentence for committing three more robberies.

Irish Independent

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