Sunday 25 June 2017

Widow tells of heartache after woman (81) caused crash that killed musician husband

Moira Edwards, who was banned from the road for four years. Photo: North West Newspix
Moira Edwards, who was banned from the road for four years. Photo: North West Newspix

Stephen Maguire

The widow of a musician killed in a car accident caused by an 81-year-old woman has revealed how she had to hide his hands at his wake because they had been so badly disfigured in the crash.

In a victim impact statement, Máire Ní Threasaigh recalled the life and death of her late husband Leonard 'Lenny' Nelson.

The victim (58), a nephew of the late showbusiness legend Billy Barry, was killed when his motorcycle was struck by a car in Co Donegal in October 2014.

Moira Edwards, of Burt, Co Donegal, appeared at a sitting of Falcarragh District Court after pleading guilty to careless driving causing the death of Mr Nelson.

Ms Ní Threasaigh told how her life had changed utterly since her husband's death and that one of the most painful things she went through was covering the hands of Mr Nelson - who played several musical instruments - at his wake.

The details of the accident were given in Garda evidence to the court.

Máire Ní Threasaigh, widow of Leonard Nelson. Photo: North West Newspix
Máire Ní Threasaigh, widow of Leonard Nelson. Photo: North West Newspix

The accused, Mrs Edwards, had been visiting a neighbour on the night of the accident.

She was emerging from the woman's farmhouse near Lisfannon, Burt, and was turning right on to the main road to drive home after 10pm.

A BMW car collided with the front of Mrs Edwards' emerging car and it went into a tailspin, hitting an oncoming motorcycle being driven by Mr Nelson, of Cullion Road, Letterkenny.

The accident and emergency services arrived at the scene within minutes.

Garda Sgt Niall Cody told how he and others tried to resuscitate Mr Nelson, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. Mrs Edwards told gardaí she did not remember seeing any vehicles coming from the direction of Derry and, after she looked left and right, all she remembered was hearing a bang.

The driver of the BMW, Conor Gallagher, from Derry, said he had been driving at around 90kmh and was coming around a bend when a car emerged onto the road and he tried to swerve to avoid it.

Ms Ní Threasaigh said there was a "gaping crater" in her life following Mr Nelson's death.

She told how Mr Nelson, a technician at the Playhouse Theatre in Derry, exuded an energy for life that was infectious and described him as her husband and best friend.

"I wake up to an empty pillow and it's like being stabbed over and over and over again," she said.

Judge Paul Kelly fined Mrs Edwards €1,000 and banned her from driving for four years.

Irish Independent

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