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Driver (33) who struck and killed father of three walks free

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Driver of the car Liam Cannon. Picture: North West Newspix

Driver of the car Liam Cannon. Picture: North West Newspix

Driver of the car Liam Cannon. Picture: North West Newspix

A man who knocked down and killed a cyclist has walked free from court.

Liam Cannon (33), of Derryconor, Gortahork, Co Donegal, had pleaded guilty to careless driving causing the death of Noel McDermott (43) in ­Gortahork.

Mr McDermott, a father of three originally from Hawthorn Heights in Letterkenny, died when he was struck by Mr Cannon on the afternoon of January 26, 2018.

He died at the scene of the collision, which took place on a sharp bend.

Garda Shaun O'Hara told Letterkenny Circuit Court that he arrived on the scene to find the driver with his hands on his head in a distressed and frantic state saying: "I've killed him."

Cannon was originally charged with dangerous driving causing death but the prosecution accepted a lesser plea of careless driving causing death.

Garda O'Hara said the accused was coming around a tight left bend and he lost control of the car, which spun and went across to the opposite side of the road, hitting Mr McDermott.

A forensic examination found that although the road was governed by an 80kmh speed limit, the bend on which the crash happened could not be negotiated at such a speed.

The investigation concluded that Cannon was going too fast into the bend to safely negotiate it and lost control of the car at speed and struck Mr McDermott.

In a victim-impact statement, Mr McDermott's wife Aifric said he lived for his family, farming and cycling.

"Noel is no longer with us and we will never get over the loss of him. We shared so many happy memories," she wrote. "But I am an empty shell of grief and I merely exist. Our lives will never be the same again."

Defence barrister Colm Smyth SC said his client was "tortured" by the events.

Cannon said he thinks about Mr McDermott and his wife and family "all the time".

"I want them to know I am sincerely sorry for what happened. If I could turn back the clock and change it, I would."

Passing sentence, Judge John Aylmer said the offence did not involve the usual factors of such cases, such as intoxication or a defective car.

He said there was no evidence that Cannon was driving above the 80kmh limit.

He said the offence deserved a sentence of 15 months but he would reduce that to 10 months because of the mitigating factors.

However, because the accused had no previous convictions, he suspended the entire sentence for 12 months.

He also disqualified Cannon from driving for six years.

Irish Independent