Saturday 1 October 2016

Woman almost three times over legal limit when she knocked down mum-of-two and left her with brain injuries

Sonya McLean

Published 01/12/2015 | 15:25

Jayne Kearney (26) was jailed for three years for dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm and driving while intoxicated at City West in March 2014. Pic: Courtpix
Jayne Kearney (26) was jailed for three years for dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm and driving while intoxicated at City West in March 2014. Pic: Courtpix

A woman who was almost three times the legal limit when she knocked down a mother of two leaving her with a brain injury has been jailed for three years.

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Jayne Kearney (26) told gardaí she had intended to stay at City West Hotel that night rather than drive her Ford Focus home but she had a row with her boyfriend. She drove off after she hit Blathnaid Molloy, who was walking towards the hotel entrance to get a taxi home.

Kearney of Foxborough Downs, Lucan, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm and driving while intoxicated at City West on March 8, 2014.

Ms Molloy's husband was in front of her that night, while her friend was walking behind her. The couple had been out celebrating their wedding anniversary at a fundraising event for the local GAA Club.

Kearney, who doesn't know the couple, had been at the same event.

She has eight previous road traffic convictions including having no insurance, no tax, exceeding the speed limit and having no rear seat belt for a passenger.

Ms Molloy, who has no recollection of the accident was left with a fractured skull and slight bleeding on the brain. She has a speech and hearing impairment as a result and suffers from dizzy spells.

She outlined in her victim impact report that on her return home from hospital, for the first few months, the room would spin and the best place for her was lying on her side without moving her head.

Ms Molloy said she missed her eldest's son's first day at school because she vomited every time she tried to move. She was not able to care for her youngest child, who was 11 months old at the time of the accident, and said it had taken some time for her to re-establish their bond.

Ms Molloy said her husband, did not go into the details of the accident with her and every time they began to speak of it, he started to cry, which she said broke her heart.

She said she understood “how close I was to the end” so she was happy “I am still here”.

She said there were times when she was so unwell that she wished she had gone because she felt it may be easier for her loved ones to deal with “rather than the horrible life I have given them”.

“My life has changed forever, as has that of my loved ones. I will never forgive the person who did this to me”.

Judge Martin Nolan noted the “horrendous” effects of the incident on Ms Molloy and said aggravating factors in the case were that Kearney was over the limit and left the scene.

He took into account Kearney's expression of remorse, full co-operation with gardai and guilty pleas.

Imposing a three year sentence and disqualifying her from driving for three years, Judge Nolan commented that he thought Kearney was a “genuinely good person” but that this was a “very, very serious fall from grace”.

Garda Alan Mooney told Vincent Heneghan BL, prosecuting that he was informed by a taxi driver who witnessed the accident that the culprit was driving a Ford Focus with one brake light not working.

He later spotted a car fitting that description in the area and instructed Kearney to pull over. He got a strong smell of alcohol from her and arrested her. She was later found to have 198mg/ml of alcohol per 100ml of urine, the legal limit is 67mg/ml.

Gda Mooney agreed with Sean Gillane SC defending that Kearney was “sharply conscious of what she had done” as her own brother had been killed as a teenager in a road traffic accident in 2009.

He accepted that she expressed remorse and told gardaí she hadn't intended to leave the hotel that night.

Gda Mooney further accepted that Kearney could not bear to hear the details of what she had done and pleaded guilty at an early stage.

Mr Gillane said Kearney made a “catastrophic and wrong decision” that night and she was “acutely aware” of the extent of Ms Molloy's suffering.

He said she came from a good decent hard working family and had spent time in psychiatric hospitals to get treatment for anxiety and depression.

“Since 2009 she has lived under the shadow of what happened to her brother as has her family, she has now darkened that shadow for all concerned,” Mr Gillane said.

He handed in a letter from Kearney, her mother and her sister. He said his client wished Ms Molloy the best in her recovery and her life and realised that forgiveness was something she would be asking for the rest of her life.

Mr Heneghan said Ms Molloy and her husband wished for her victim impact report to be read into the record.

She said the accident had changed her life forever while she and her husband were on “a rare night out” celebrating their wedding anniversary.

She recalled going out to look for a taxi, her husband walking ahead, her friend behind her and the next thing she could recall was waking up in Tallaght Hospital.

She was later informed that she had been thrown onto the bonnet of the car and the person had driven off leaving her lying on the ground. Her husband had no idea what had happened.

She said since the accident, any time they began to discuss what happened, her husband started to cry and it broke her heart.

When she returned home from hospital she said she didn't even look at “my gorgeous kids” but instead sought out her father to reassure him she was ok before going to her bedroom.

She said she missed out on so much time with her children, particularly her baby who was just 11 months old at the time and needed her. She said he became closer to other people and it took some time to re-establish their bond.

She missed out on her son's first day of school. She said she had tried to make it but she vomited every time she tried to move. She could hear her husband explaining to the child that his mother was too sick to come with him before she heard “his little legs run up the stairs”.

She said she her son hugged her very tightly and told her not to worry that he would be back soon.

She said she had been diagnosed as having a moderate brain injury, which she described as a “hidden disability” and people didn't how to deal with her.

Ms Molloy said apart from school runs she was largely confined to the house which “is not the way it used be”.

Ms Molloy concluded her statement by saying she was thankful both to the hospital staff and gardaí.

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