Saturday 22 September 2018

Careless driver (38) involved in serious collision with pedestrian sentenced to community service

Rathfarnham Garda Station (Photo: Google Maps)
Rathfarnham Garda Station (Photo: Google Maps)

Fiona Ferguson

A driver whose failure to pay attention led to a serious collision with a man crossing the road has been sentenced to 125 hours of community service in lieu of a six month prison sentence.

Aisling Keogh (38), who told gardaí she had not seen the pedestrian, tended to the injured man at the scene and called an ambulance before going to a garda station to report the collision herself.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Paschal Walsh died in hospital at a later date but not as a direct result of the injuries he received in the collision. Keogh was not charged in relation to his death

Keogh, of Butterfield Drive, Rathfarnham, Dublin pleaded guilty to careless driving causing serious harm in Rathfarnham on December 29, 2015. She has no previous convictions.

Judge Martin Nolan said it seemed to him that Keogh had ample time to see the man crossing the road and would have seen him if she was paying proper attention. He said he thought most drivers were capable of inattention.

He noted Mr Walsh had almost reached the far side of the road when he was struck and that Keogh's car had stopped almost immediately following the considerable impact. “She had almost stopped the car by breaking, it seems to me,” said Judge Nolan.

Judge Nolan said Keogh had behaved in an honourable way following the incident and had excellent mitigation. He said she did not deserve a prison sentence.

“This could be termed an accident in the true sense of the word,” said Judge Nolan, “there was no aggravating circumstances whatsoever.”

Judge Nolan previously imposed 125 hours community service in lieu of six months imprisonment and adjourned the case until April for an assessment of suitability for community service.

Today, the court heard Keogh was suitable for community service and the sentence was confirmed. Judge Nolan also imposed a mandatory driving ban of four years.

He extended his condolences to Mr Walsh's family and noted his death had had a considerable effect on them. He said Mr Walsh was clearly a lovely man who was greatly missed.

Garda Peter Collins told Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, that gardaí first became aware of the incident when Keogh came to Rathfarnham Garda Station to report the incident.

She told gardaí she had been driving past Rathfarnham Shopping Centre when she collided with a man crossing the road. She said she applied her brakes when she first saw him. She got out of her car, tended to the man and called an ambulance.

Gardai recovered CCTV footage of the incident which was played for Judge Nolan in court.

Gda Collins said forensic collision analysis was carried out and established that Keogh had been driving at 43 kilometres per hour, within the 50kmph limit. Weather conditions were not a factor. He said the man crossing was visible for six seconds on the road and wearing quite bright clothing.

Mr Walsh was taken to Tallaght Hospital following the collision with a sore arm and ribs. He was later put into an induced coma for a number of weeks. He never fully recovered and later died.

The court heard Mr Walsh, a father of four children who spent 45 years working for the ESB, was very well known and liked in the area. His wife, for whom he was a carer, had been deeply affected.

Gda Collins agreed with Giollaiosa O'Lideadha SC, defending, that Keogh appreciated the approach the family had taken towards her. He agreed that that Keogh had told gardaí that she had just not seen the man crossing the road.

Gda Collins agreed with Judge Nolan that the prosecution say that Keogh was not paying proper attention to her surroundings and should have noticed the man earlier.

Mr O'Lideadha handed a number of testimonials into court. He said Keogh was someone who had made a particular contribution to society, in leaving a job in the financial sector and retraining as a speech and language therapist.

She carried out some voluntary work in this capacity.

He submitted the case was at the lowest end of the scale and asked the court to take into account that Keogh had done everything that a decent person would do in relation to the case including assisting the man at the scene, going to gardaí, co-operating fully and making admissions.

Counsel said she was not contesting that she had done wrong and failed to pay attention when she should have.

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