independent

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Banned driver ran over tennis player

EARLIER ROW WITH WOMAN'S BOYFRIEND

Published 16/10/2012 | 11:09

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A MAN has been jailed for running over a talented tennis player because of an earlier argument with her boyfriend.

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Lee Dillon (25) was already disqualified from driving when he hit the woman in his BMW X5 jeep. She was dragged 30 yards along the road and suffered a broken wrist, nerve damage and permanent scarring. Dillon of Turnapin Cottages, Cloghran, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to endangerment, driving without insurance and assault causing harm to Caoimhe Rathbone on the Old Blessington Road on June 11, 2011. Judge Martin Nolan jailed Dillon for three-and-a-half years and disqualified him from driving for a further five years. The judge noted Dillon 'sought to do damage to Ms. Rathbone and he succeeded terribly in this'. He said it was one of the worst assaults of its kind to come before the court and that Dillon was 'very lucky' not to be facing more serious charges. Dillon has 21 previous convictions, mostly for road traffic offences. Last March he was given a five year suspended sentence for possession of cocaine and heroin with intent to supply. The court heard Ms. Rathbone had been an active sports person and was ranked the third best tennis player in her local club. She stated in a victim impact report that since the assault she finds it hard to take part in physical activities and cannot play tennis because of her broken wrist. As well as cuts all over her body, she also suffered permanent scarring including dirt and gravel becoming embedded in her face. She said this makes her feel nervous in social situations. Her hospital bills are €94,000 and she is down over €6,000 in lost earnings. Garda Robert Whitty told prosecuting counsel Derek Cooney BL that Dillon was out at a local nightspot when he struck up a conversation with Ms. Rathbone. Her boyfriend was unhappy with this and a verbal row broke out between him and Dillon. Dillon left saying he was going to get his car and come back to 'get' the boyfriend. He got a taxi back to Bewleys Hotel where he was staying and picked up his BMW jeep before going out searching for the man. When he spotted Ms. Rathbone and her boyfriend walking up Old Blessington Road he accelerated onto the footpath before braking and 'nudging' the couple with his vehicle. He continued revving the engine and bumping into the pair before he drove off at speed, running over the victim. He fled leaving Ms. Rathbone unconscious on the road. She was taken to hospital in a taxi. Dillon's jeep was found the next day and matched to the incident by a piece of Ms. Rathbone's clothing found hanging off the underside. Shortly afterwards he handed himself in to gardaí. Defence counsel Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC said Dillon was under stress at the time because he was facing sentencing for the drug dealing charge. He said he had turned to drink and drugs and was 'out of control'.

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