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Friday 29 August 2014

Father who lost two babies in crash says lives 'stolen away'

Ann Healy

Published 15/03/2014 | 02:30

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11/03/2014 XXjob John O'Connor, leaving Court after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death of two young girls in Tuam in 2012 . Photo:Andrew Downes
John O'Connor

THE father of two baby girls killed in a crash has described how the family put two children to bed on a Saturday night – and were left with two corpses the following day.

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His statement came as John O'Connor (41), from Waterslade Downs, Tuam, Co Galway, was jailed for seven years for a single charge of dangerous driving on October 21, 2012.

O'Connor, who has a lifelong history of epilepsy, pleaded guilty to the charge and had the final three years of his sentence suspended.

Two-year-old Kate Gilmore and her 12-week-old sister Grace, were out for a stroll with their father on the day of the crash.

They were both asleep at 12.35pm when their twin buggy was hit head-on by a Toyota Avensis car which had veered into the N17 hard shoulder.

In a victim impact statement at Galway Circuit Criminal, their father John Gilmore echoed comments made at the funeral of his two daughters.

"When asked to describe the loss of Kate and Grace I have to borrow the words of the priest at my daughters' funerals, who said: 'John and Michelle had two kids to put to bed on Saturday night and were left with two corpses on Sunday and that is the reality of it'," Mr Gilmore said yesterday.

SHATTERED

"As a parent, you look forward to a long life with your children, watching your children grow up but they will never get to do the things – going to school, college, picking a career and having a full and happy life and looking after me in my old age.

"All those things stolen away."

Mr Gilmore's wife Michelle said she questioned why she asked her husband to take the walk on that day.

"Our lives have been shattered. I put one foot in front of the other barely able to keep going. Time has stood still," she said.

The couple has since had a baby boy, which Ms Gilmore said has put a light back into their lives.

But she added: "This does not in any way take away from our grief. He is our third child.

"There is no moving on. The only thing time does is move our babies further away from us. It does not heal."

The court heard that O'Connor had been involved in another collision moments before he crashed into the two girls, where he had collided with a jeep.

He left the scene of that accident and was observed by other motorists swerving and driving erratically.

He almost collided with a jogger on the hard shoulder seconds before his car "ploughed" into Mr Gilmore and his two little daughters.

The girls suffered "catastrophic injuries" and were rushed to hospital where they were pronounced dead a short time later. Mr Gilmore was also treated for injuries in hospital.

O'Connor was arrested and interviewed the following day. He had no recollection of either accident.

Irish Independent

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