Tuesday 25 June 2019

Father criticises failure to tell inquest jury his son was killed by drink driver

'Remorseful' pensioner (71) who struck cyclist (18) with his jeep had previous conviction

Stefan Cooper (18) died after being hit by jeep
Stefan Cooper (18) died after being hit by jeep

Ralph Riegel

The father of an 18-year-old cyclist killed in a collision with a drink driver has hit out after a Cork Coroner's inquest jury was not informed the motorist was over the alcohol limit.

Christy Cooper was speaking as an inquest returned a verdict of accidental death for his son Stefan (18), who died in a collision with a jeep in west Cork two years ago.

Last February, pensioner Sean Collins (71), who had a previous conviction for drink driving, received a 12-month suspended prison sentence arising from the death of the teenager.

Collins, of Rosscarbery, Co Cork pleaded guilty before Cork Circuit Criminal Court to careless driving causing death and driving his jeep with excess alcohol on March 8, 2016.

Mr Cooper, a secondary school student from Tragumna, died when the bicycle he was riding was in collision with the Toyota jeep being driven by Collins.

The accident occurred shortly after 5pm outside Rosscarbery on the main N71 Cork-Skibbereen road.

Mr Cooper was riding his bicycle without a light and while wearing dark clothing.

A number of other drivers reported being concerned about the young cyclist.

One motorist was so concerned he turned around on the roadway and was driving back to meet Mr Cooper and offer him a lift home for his own safety.

Tragically, the fatal accident occurred before he could reach the cyclist.

In evidence, Collins said he didn't see the cyclist on the roadway.

He said he saw nothing until his windscreen was shattered in the impact.

Collins had a blood alcohol level of 140mg - but the inquest jury was not informed of this yesterday.

He also had a previous conviction for drink driving.

The teen's father said he was "disappointed" the inquest jury had not been informed of these details.

The Circuit Court heard the pensioner was deeply distressed at the accident scene and co-operated fully with gardaí.

Collins is currently caring for his elderly, housebound wife.

"This man is not made of stone - he was very remorseful on the night in question," Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said last February.

Collins received a suspended 12-month prison sentence and was disqualified from driving for five years.

However, the teen's father declared yesterday that alcohol was a factor in his son's death and said the inquest jury should have been informed during the hearing of the driver's blood alcohol level on the date in question.

Irish Independent

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