Cancer sufferer avoids jail over crash that killed her mum
A WOMAN who pleaded guilty to dangerous driving which led to the death of her 80-year-old mother said a part of her also died that day.
Ann Shaughnessy (65), of Tierboy, Tuam, Co Galway, appeared before Galway Circuit Criminal Court yesterday where she was given a suspended two-year sentence and disqualified from driving for 10 years.
Shaughnessy, who suffers from recurring bowel cancer, had taken double the amount of prescribed medication prior to the accident at Cloon Mor, Tuam, on June 20 last year, which caused the death of her mother, Mary Shaughnessy.
The defendant had been disqualified from driving for four years in 2010 for driving without insurance and had a conviction for being drunk in public also. She was not insured at the time.
The court heard a passenger in a car travelling behind Shaughnessy's car that afternoon began filming her erratic driving on his mobile phone moments before the fatal collision occurred near the Belclare junction on the N17, Galway to Tuam road, three miles from Tuam.
The video footage recorded Shaughnessy's car drifting across the road on a sweeping bend, and driving along the hard shoulder on the incorrect side before colliding with three oncoming vehicles. Her car then went across the road to its correct side and ended up in the ditch.
Mary Shaughnessy was pronounced dead at the scene having suffered multiple injuries.
The court heard she had suffered from Alzheimer's for 20 years and her daughter had returned home to Tuam to mind her after the break-up of her marriage in London.
The defendant admitted taking two different types of prescribed medication that day, sleeping tablets and painkillers.
Defence barrister John Hogan said his client had suffered a lapse in concentration which was perhaps accentuated by the heavy medication she was on at the time.
Imposing the sentence, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke said the woman was on quite an amount of medication at the time and perhaps she fell asleep.
There was no evidence of speed, drink or vehicle failure, he said, so the cause was to do with her lack of attention or the medication she was taking.