Wednesday 22 November 2017

'Hearing Éabha cry is unbearable... there is no mammy for her to run to for a kiss and a hug'

The coffin of Olivia Dunne is carried from the church to the hearse at her funeral in Balbriggan (Photo: Mark Condren)
The coffin of Olivia Dunne is carried from the church to the hearse at her funeral in Balbriggan (Photo: Mark Condren)
Olivia and Ciaran Dunne on their wedding day
Gardaí investigating the incident Photo: Collins Courts
The wrecked pram at the scene Photo: Collins Courts
Anthony Handley at court yesterday Photo: Collins Courts

Conor Gallagher

Young mother Olivia Dunne spent just 110 days with her new baby before she was killed by a fatigued driver as she walked her daughter Éabha in her pram.

A victim impact report read into court on behalf of her family said they were "living with a nightmare".

"Hearing Éabha cry is unbearable as we know there is no mammy for her to run to for a hug and a kiss. For us, at least we have memories; for Éabha, she only has a picture," the statement read.

"110 days is all that she got to spend with her mam. She has been deprived of so much," they said.

Olivia and Ciaran Dunne on their wedding day
Olivia and Ciaran Dunne on their wedding day

The family said that Olivia had been "so proud of Éabha".

"Thoughts of what Olivia has missed out on are really difficult to come to terms with.

Gardaí investigating the incident Photo: Collins Courts
Gardaí investigating the incident Photo: Collins Courts

"She has already missed Éabha's first and second birthdays, she has already missed her first tooth, her first steps, her first words. She never even got to enjoy and experience her first Mother's Day," the statement read.

Gardaí believe driver Anthony Handley (64) drifted off momentarily in a 'micro sleep' before his vehicle careered into the mother and child near Balbriggan, Co Dublin.

The wrecked pram at the scene Photo: Collins Courts
The wrecked pram at the scene Photo: Collins Courts

Handley, of Whitehorn Grove, Artane, Dublin, had no alcohol or drugs in his system at the time. He pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving causing the death of Olivia Dunne and serious bodily harm to Éabha in Balbriggan on January 17, 2014.

Ms Dunne (31) was killed instantly by the impact. Éabha, her only daughter, was thrown from her pram and landed underneath the vehicle.

Anthony Handley at court yesterday Photo: Collins Courts
Anthony Handley at court yesterday Photo: Collins Courts

She had multiple broken bones and would have died if she did not receive medical attention, the court heard. She continues to suffer the effects of her injuries.

Ms Dunne's husband of 18 months, Ciaran, said he was still alive only because Éabha survived.

"If there had been two coffins that day, it is guaranteed there would have been three," his statement read.

Ms Dunne's sister, Caroline Clinton, said Éabha walks with a limp and will require further surgery.

"She was expected not to survive; she beat the odds, she's our little miracle," Ms Clinton wrote.

Cíaran said he could not come to court because he never wanted to see the man who took away his wife.

"The anger and pain will always remain," Ms Clinton said.

The statement read to the court said the family still had nightmares about Olivia's last moments and baby Éabha's fight for life.

Judge Patrick McCartan refused a defence plea for a suspended sentence. He said Handley was a good man with a blameless record but that he should have been alert to the fact that he was becoming tired behind the wheel.

He said he was imposing the two-year sentence "to send out the clear message to the community that fatigue must be a phenomenon in the minds of all drivers."

He also banned Handley from driving for 10 years.

The judge said the offence was "in no way in the same bracket as someone who had taken alcohol and drugs", but that Handley's tiredness was an aggravating factor.

He said society was only starting to realise the dangers of driving while tired.

Sgt Brian Kavanagh said Handley told him he got four hours' sleep the night before.

A motorist who was behind him said he saw Handley's car take off to the right "like a rocket" with no warning. It hit the mother and daughter on the footpath before crashing into a fence.

Irish Independent

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