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Drunk driver who mowed down woman as he tried to escape from gardaí is jailed

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A drunk driver who knocked over a woman while trying to avoid a Garda checkpoint, then fled the scene, was jailed yesterday.

Darren Kershaw (45), of Cherry Orchard Park, Ballyfermot, Dublin, admitted dangerous driving causing serious harm at Landen Road, Ballyfermot on June 19, 2018.

He also pleaded guilty to failing to remain at the scene and driving over the legal alcohol limit, both on the same date.

The woman whom he struck suffered a fractured skull and other injuries and is still not fully recovered, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told.

Passing sentence, Judge Elma Sheahan said the court viewed Kershaw's culpability as high. She noted most of his 11 previous convictions were for minor road traffic offences.

The judge said the mitigating factors were his plea of guilty, his full co-operation and genuine remorse, his substance addictions and efforts to rehabilitate, including abstaining from alcohol since the offence and more recently abstaining from drugs.

She sentenced Kershaw to four-and-a-half years' imprisonment, but suspended the final 12 months on strict conditions including that he remain free from drugs and alcohol.

At an earlier hearing, Detective Sergeant Brian Hoey told Diarmuid Collins BL, prosecuting, that patrol cars had begun following the accused after he did a U-turn just before a Garda checkpoint on Sarsfield Road in Ballyfermot.

Det Sgt Hoey said the car mounted the pavement as it turned on to Landen Road, where it knocked down a set of traffic lights before striking Brazilian woman Ranyfrancia DaSilva who was walking home with her husband.

The car did not stop at the scene but was unable to drive much further because of damage to a front tyre and axle.

After he was arrested, Kershaw claimed he had had "a few cans of Heineken" as well as two pints in a pub after being out "sulky racing" and had panicked when he saw the checkpoint.

He called himself "an idiot" and apologised for the injury he had caused the victim.

The court heard that test results showed that Kershaw had 200mg of alcohol per 100ml of urine, as well as traces of cannabis and cocaine in his system.

Ms DaSilva was knocked unconscious after being struck by the vehicle and suffered multiple skull fractures and injuries to her back. She continues to suffer dizziness, headaches and disturbed sleep and has been unable to work at her job with a delivery firm since the incident.

Pádraig Dwyer SC, defending, said Kershaw was the father of five children and a stage construction worker. He said the defendant suffered from depression and cried when he thought of how he dramatically changed his victim's life.

In her victim impact statement, Ms DaSilva said she had incurred medical expenses totalling €27,000 and had to turn down a new job in IT with a salary of €40,000.

She said she was now sad all the time and suffered depression and was afraid to leave her apartment. She said she no longer socialised and lived in fear that something similar could happen again.

"Every day is a struggle for me," she said. "I struggle to come to terms with the day that destroyed my life."

Irish Independent