Saturday 19 October 2019

Man (21) jailed for four years for dangerous driving causing death of GAA coach

Rene Miko
Rene Miko

Gordon Deegan

A 21-year-old Slovakian man was today jailed for four years for the dangerous driving causing the death of GAA coach, Eugene McNamara (42).

At Ennis Circuit Court, Judge Gerald Keys imposed a six year jail term, suspending the final two years on Rene Miko of Place de Plouzane, Kilrush.

Judge Keys also imposed a 15-year driving ban on Mr Miko.

Mr Miko was twice over the drink driving limit and driving at a speed of 120kmph and not slowing down in a built area in Ennis before he struck Mr McNamara who was walking on a footpath at a roundabout at 10.05pm on October 26th 2016.

CCTV footage shown at Ennis Circuit Court captured the high speed of Mr Miko’s BMW on the dark night and Mr McNamara walking along the footpath opposite McDonalds in Ennis before the fatal impact.

Mr Miko’s car was travelling at more than twice the local speed limit of 50kmph.

The footage showed off duty Garda, Garda Michael O’Connor of Roxboro Rd Garda Station, Limerick doing a u-turn on the Gort Road leading into the roundabout to pursue the Miko car after he saw the speed.

In a statement, Garda O’Connor said that before Mr Miko’s car struck Mr McNamara, it first hit another car putting the other car airborne and spinning a number of times.

Facing jail: Rene Miko
Facing jail: Rene Miko

The Garda investigation found that Mr Miko’s car made no effort to reduce its 120kmph speed before coming into the roundabout.

In a victim impact statement on behalf of the McNamara family at a previous hearing, double All-Ireland hurling winner with the Clare hurlers from the 1990s and brother of Eugene, Stephen McNamara said that Eugene “was left to suffer alone on the side of the road” as the CCTV footage showed Mr Miko and his passenger get out of their car and flee the scene.

The two ran across the nearby Fairgreen park to New Rd at Rice College before they were apprehended by Garda O’Connor at Marian Avenue.

Mr McNamara died a number of days later from his injuries and Asst State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster found that Mr McNamara died from severe traumatic brain injury as a result of blunt force trauma in a road traffic collision.

In his first Garda interview, Mr Miko maintained his right to silence and at first didn’t admit culpability.

It was only after Gardai retrieved forensic evidence showing Mr Miko’s DNA from the air bag on the driver’s side that Mr Miko admitted: “I am maybe 30pc to 40pc responsible but I can’t be 100pc responsible because I don’t think I was the driver.”

Garda Alan Ryan said that Mr Miko did accept the findings of the DNA tests.

Counsel for the State Lorcan Connolly BL said that Mr Miko said that he didn’t have a recollection of the incident.

Garda Ryan said that Mr Miko couldn’t remember how he got into the car or he came to driving it.

Counsel for Mr Miko, Mark Nicholas SC said that Mr Miko “had no experience of driving, had no driving licence, had no car and had no history of driving and no ambition to drive in any way”.

Mr Nicholas said that his client has pleaded guilty but couldn’t at first admit to driving as he didn’t remember what happened.

Mr Nicholas said that Mr Miko’s driving on the night caused catastrophic consequences and apologises for what it is worth.

Mr Nicholas said that Mr Miko has no previous convictions, is young and is of good character.

In his victim impact statement, Stephen McNamara said that the life of his brother was cruelly taken.

Stephen said that the “nightmare” caused from that night is constantly with the McNamara family “and the circumstances around Eugene’s death are always on our minds”.

Stephen said that Eugene was one of four sons and even after purchasing his own home would have dinner at his parents’ house every day telling them his news.

Stephen stated that Eugene’s “chair at the family table is now empty and that is a constant reminder”.

Stephen said that his parents never have a night where they are able to sleep without waking and thinking what happened Eugene on his walk home that night.

Stephen added that Eugene won’t be around to see his brother Barry get married this May and the special bond with his twin, David has been destroyed by that night in October 2016.

The All-Ireland winner said that Eugene has also not been around for the birth of a niece and nephew since October 2016 “and he now won’t get to know them and see them grow up”.

Stephen said that Eugene’s involvement with Eire Óg GAA as a player, coach and manager started when he was eight years of age.

Stephen recalled that  at Eugene’s funeral a Guard of Honour was put on by members of the u-12 Eire Óg team that Eugene coached.

Stephen said that Eugene “was cruelly knocked down by a speeding car and was left to suffer alone by the side of the road. It is a picture that haunts all of his family and remains with us”.

Stephen said that all those left behind “are living a daily nightmare with the horrible thoughts of what happened Eugene as he walked home alone innocently on the footpath that night”.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News