Tuesday 17 September 2019

'I would do anything to change it,' says drink-driver who killed two women

Driver Dermot Dowd. Photo: North West Newspix
Driver Dermot Dowd. Photo: North West Newspix

Stephen Maguire

A drink-driver who killed two women after a booze and drugs binge said he would do anything to take back what he had done.

Kiara Baird (19) and Maria Wallace (38) died when Dermot Dowd lost control of his car outside Ballybofey, Co Donegal, on September 21, 2016.

Dowd initially tried to claim that Ms Wallace, a mother-of-three, was driving the Citroën C3 when it crashed at Glenfin Road. The 24-year-old later admitted drinking for hours in a local bar with the two women before getting behind the wheel.

Ms Baird died at the scene while Ms Wallace died a short time later in hospital.

He pleaded guilty before Letterkenny Circuit Court to dangerous driving causing death and last February he was sentenced to five years in prison.

Dowd appeared again at Letterkenny Courthouse yesterday to face the relatives of the dead women during the victims' inquests.

Kiara Baird
Kiara Baird

The Dubliner, with an address at Donegal Road, Ballybofey, told how he met Maria and Kiara at Bonner's Bar in Ballybofey that morning.

Both women were drinking and he said he drank a number of pints, vodka and whiskey as well as taking cannabis.

Dowd said none of them was wearing seatbelts while in the car.

He had slowed up towards a bend but the car started to slide and he suddenly heard a bang. He looked around and the women were "gone".

Maria Wallace
Maria Wallace

He added: "I'm sorry and I would do anything to change what happened."

Witness Karl Gallen said he saw a small blue car "shoot straight out" in front of him. "I had to slam on the brakes so not to hit him. I was very lucky he didn't hit me," he said.

Garda Michelle Kelly outlined the horrific scene she came across. Two women were lying on the ground while a man was kneeling down holding one of the women.

Garda forensic collision investigator Gerry McCauley, said he could not give an exact speed the car was traveling at but confirmed it was "considerably over the speed limit".

The car had hit a lamppost and was then thrown 33 metres into the lay-by of a nearby yard.

The jury of three women and seven men found the cause of both women's deaths was due to a head injury as a result of a road traffic collision.

Coroner Dr Denis McCauley offered his sympathy to both families and said it was simply "an awful tragedy".

Ms Baird's mother Tracey addressed the court and said she wanted to thank Dowd for staying with her daughter.

"There was a lot of horrible rumours especially about Mr Dowd and we got a few answers," she said. "Thank you for that. We now realise he helped Kiara in her last hours and we want to thank him for holding her and being there."

Irish Independent

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