Friday 18 October 2019

Car crash victim's family condemn death driver over his lack of remorse

Jillian Thornton
Jillian Thornton

Richard McCullen

The family of a car crash victim have accused the driver convicted of causing her death of showing no remorse for his actions.

Jillian Thornton's loved ones spoke out at the resumed sentencing hearing of Michael Collins (45) at Trim Circuit Court in Co Meath yesterday.

Ms Thornton (20) died when she was thrown from the back seat of the defendant's car which was split in two when it collided with another car on the N2.

Collins, of St Finian's Park, Drogheda, Co Louth, was found guilty earlier this year of dangerous driving causing the death of Ms Thornton on May 27, 2016, at Waterside Great, Duleek, Co Meath.

Collins, who defended himself after sacking his legal team at the start of the trial, was also convicted on two charges of endangerment, 12 charges of dangerous driving and driving under the influence of an intoxicant on the same date.

The fatal crash happened following a 35-minute Garda pursuit which began when the defendant failed to stop for gardaí after driving the wrong way around a roundabout.

The trial heard recordings of 999 calls from the passengers in the car saying the driver was going to crash unless gardaí called off the pursuit. One of the calls made shortly before the collision ended in a scream.

The court heard Garda evidence of Collins speeding on the wrong side of the road, being involved in near misses, driving head on at Garda vehicles, travelling without lights and weaving from side to side.

Collins, who was found to have cannabis in his system on the night, claimed in court that he had been in fear for his life at the time as someone had put a hit on him and he did not believe it was gardaí who were following him.

He said he was scared of being shot and feared he was being chased by would-be assassins.

In victim impact statements read by Ms Thornton's sister Elaine, the court heard the family's whole world fell apart when she was killed and they suffered ongoing nightmares and could no longer celebrate family occasions.

They condemned the lack of remorse shown by Collins through the course of his trial.

"He'll get a second chance at life, Jillian never will," said Elaine Thornton.

The defendant told the hearing he had pleaded not guilty as he wanted the whole case heard.

Judge Martina Baxter remanded him in custody until July 17 for sentencing.

Irish Independent

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