Wednesday 18 September 2019

'I heard a bang' - driver who killed student in hit and run had alcohol and cocaine in his body, court hears

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Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

PROSECUTORS have demanded an eight-month jail sentence for a man they say caused a fatal crash that claimed the life of an Irish student in the Netherlands.

Aoife O’Connell (21) died following the road collision in the city of Utrecht earlier this year.

The Cork student was killed on March 9 following the hit and run in the early hours of the morning.

Yesterday, a Dutch court was told the defendant, identified only as 37-year-old TK, from the Zeist area, had alcohol and cocaine in his body.

The accused said he saw a silhouette while driving along a roadway at 4.30am and attempted to avoid a collision.

“But that didn’t work, I heard a loud bang,” he said.

The defendant later fled the scene and reported to investigating police officers more than 24 hours later, when he was arrested.

He did this after talking with his wife, parents and lawyer.

“I had four beers,” he told the court yesterday afternoon about the moment of the accident.

He said the traces of cocaine in his body came from three days earlier: “Not from later. Yes, I had used quite a lot that Wednesday, between one and two grammes of cocaine.”

The reason he had not reported to the police earlier, he said, was because he had been advised to wait.

The collision that claimed Ms O’Connell’s life happened in bad weather and while the defendant was driving at around 90kmh.

Bystanders administered first aid but she was pronounced dead a short time later.

“I regret the accident, my condolences go to the next of kin,” the accused told the court.

Prosecutor Gabriëlle Hoppenbrouwers asked the defendant why he had started driving too fast and while under the influence of alcohol, despite having previous convictions for a similar offence.

In an emotional address to the court, Ms O’Connell’s father described how they were “so proud of our daughter”.

He spoke of the pain within his family following her death, and said he did not understand why the suspect was speeding while under the influence of alcohol.

A sentence is expected to be delivered on Thursday, August 22.

Irish Independent

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