Killer driver jailed despite plea to judge from victim's mother
A DRIVER killed his passenger after he approached a stop sign at 96kmh (60mph) and asked: "Will I go for it?"
A court was told how Paddy Buckley (23) had been out drinking for several hours before crashing his Renault Megane which spun out of control at a junction and ploughed into a concrete pillar.
His friend Keith Sheehan (23) -- a passenger in the car -- suffered fatal injuries in the collision at Gurteenroe outside Macroom, Co Cork, on August 29, 2010.
Buckley of Ballyvoushill, Millstreet, Co Cork, was given an 18-month jail sentence yesterday for dangerous driving causing death.
It emerged he was only driving that day as a drink-driving conviction from 2009 was still under appeal.
Judge Sean O'Donnabhain warned that every young driver should read the heart-breaking victim impact statement of Mr Sheehan's mother Margaret.
"Every young fella getting a (driving) licence should get a copy of this. They all think they are invincible -- but they are not," the judge said.
The mother said she would never forget having to view her son's body "lying still, cold and lifeless ... covered with a single white sheet" in Cork morgue.
Mrs Sheehan also issued an emotional plea for her son's friend not to be jailed -- but the judge said he could not comply.
The mother of four said their lives were shattered.
"Nothing could ever prepare us for the nightmare that we were about to wake up to -- the cruel and senseless manner in which his precious life was snatched from him," she said.
"He was gone -- flicked out like a light. All young men think that they are invincible -- as a parent there is nothing more you can do but want to believe it," she said.
Buckley said he wished he could change what happened.
"I feel terrible. I know there is nothing I can do about it now. I lie awake all night thinking about Keith. I just want to apologise to his family and anyone who was affected by the accident," he said.
The court heard that Buckley had visited the Sheehan family home to apologise in person.
Judge O'Donnabhain expressed "disbelief" when it emerged that Buckley had asked, "will I go for it?" when approaching the stop sign.
Buckley had a blood-alcohol level of 118mg per 100ml. The legal limit is 80mg.
Traces of an opiate-type drug were also found in his system.
The judge said: "It is with some disbelief that I heard these (accident) facts being enunciated -- with all the campaigns and publicity (I thought) that this sort of drinking and driving thereafter had finished.
"He (Buckley) will have to carry the guilt with him forever," he added.
The judge jailed Buckley for three years but agreed to suspend the final 18 months.
Buckley was ordered to remain under the supervision of the Probation and Welfare Service for 18 months on his release.
He was disqualified from driving for six years.