Sunday 25 February 2018

Aunt spared jail for crash that killed two children

A WOMAN who was convicted of dangerous driving causing the deaths of her nephew and niece two years ago, today got a three-and-a-half year suspended jail sentence.

Judge Michael O’Shea said that the attitude of her sister Denise, the children’s mother who did not want to see her imprisoned, was extremely important.

Vera Murden (40), Fatima Court, Dundalk, Co Louth, had pleaded not guilty to dangerous driving causing the deaths of one-year-old Jayden Murden and four-year-old Jenna Murden.

The children were fatally injured when the Hyundai Santa Fe SUV driven by Murden crashed into the wall of a former pub at the junction of Maxwell Row and the Newry Road bridge in Dundalk at 4pm on Saturday, January 31, 2009.

Jenna died on February 24 and Jayden died on March 10.

During the five-day trial in January, Dundalk Circuit Court heard there were three other children in the car: John (10), a brother of the deceased children; Chloe (8), another niece of the accused; and Conor (8), a son of the accused.

The court heard that there were no child seats or booster seats nor was there any damage to the seat belts in the vehicle.

A motorist, Shane Finnegan, who witnessed the crash, said the SUV had passed him travelling at "excessive" speed and then he saw it hit the building through his rear view mirror.

He was the first on the scene and had lifted some of the children from the wreck before other motorists arrived and helped.

Another motorist, Carol Hutchinson, had asked Murden what happened and she replied that she thought she had taken some kind of fit.

Dundalk Circuit court was told that there had been contact between Ms Murden the her sister Denise and her husband John since the trial ended and they were trying to rebuild their relationship.

Garda Sgt Ger Collins said the couple had no desire to see her serve a custodial sentence.

Judge Michael O’Shea said it was an extremely tragic case and the accused had expressed genuine remorse.

He said the loss to the parents of their children was "incalculable," and they were "extraordinary, caring and forgiving people."

He imposed a three-and-a-half-year jail term which he suspended on Murden entering into a good behaviour bond for 4 years.

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