Saturday 26 May 2018

Dangerous driver doing stunts before ploughing into toddler

A garda in the Phoenix Park where Vanessa Siatka died. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
A garda in the Phoenix Park where Vanessa Siatka died. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Alison O'Riordan

Killer driver Ciaran Lane had been performing stunts in his car before ploughing into toddler Vanessa Siatka.

One witness said he saw Lane (25) doing handbrake turns in The Maple Centre in Cabra.

Another witness told gardaí that at 1pm that day he saw a green car driving on the wrong side of the road - just narrowly avoiding a collision.

Another person said a few minutes before the collision he saw the car doing handbrake skids into a car parking spot.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Lane, of Ashington Avenue, Cabra failed to stop after hitting the child that afternoon.

Half an hour later, Lane arrived at Cabra garda station and told gardaí that he had been involved in the accident. He told gardaí he had been driving at a speed of 80kmh and the speed limit was 50kmh. His last road traffic offence occurred in 2011 and he was fined €900 for having no insurance.

Judge Patrick McCartan told the court the Easter Monday collision last year was "a terrible tragedy" with the "horrible loss of a young life".

The judge said this tragedy had been "entirely avoidable" and he extended his "deepest condolences" to the family.

"Her family and friends come here today in search of some justice for what has occurred. It is probably the most difficult case that a judge has to deal with and this court is regretfully no stranger to these kind of cases."

The judge said there was nothing the court could do to address the injustice created.

"My hands are tied by precedent and a higher sense of justice in that only in very exceptional cases should a maximum sentence be imposed. This case is not far from that position, as it happens," said the judge.

He said Phoenix Park had many attractions for families.

"Easter Monday, April 6, 2015 was a particular busy day, it was a very pleasant and warm day," he said. "Anyone who used the park, including the accused, would know there would be children about. The evidence has established that the accused was in no position to consider the safety of others," he said.

The judge said Lane drove his car in the "most erratic way" and what occurred "was inevitable but entirely avoidable."

He said Lane was well over the limit and was using "a highly stimulant drug, cocaine". This was as bad "a dangerous driving case" as he had ever encountered. He said the only mitigating factor was that Vanessa was on the road.

He sentenced Lane to seven years in prison with the final two years suspended. Judge McCartan also banned Lane from driving for 20 years.

Irish Independent

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