Saturday 21 September 2019

Man jailed for careless driving causing death claims he was sentenced twice for same incident

The High Court, Dublin
The High Court, Dublin

Aodhan O'Faolain and Ray Managh

A 33-year old man jailed for careless driving causing the death of another man in Roscommon has claimed before the High Court he has been wrongly convicted and sentenced twice in respect of the same incident.

The claim was made before the High Court by lawyers representing Luigi Forte.

Forte was jailed for nine months at Roscommon Circuit Court on May 3rd last, after he admitted to a charge of dangerous driving causing the death of 22-year-old Dylan Byrne.

Mr Byrne was a passenger in the car driven by Forte that was involved in a crash at Ardcarne near Boyle, Co Roscommon on August 9 2016.

Arising out of the same incident Forte was before Carrick on Shannon District Court on May 15 last where he received a five-month prison sentence for driving without insurance.

Forte's lawyers claim that the five-month sentence is unfair and should be quashed.  

Victim Dylan Byrne
Victim Dylan Byrne

At the High Court on Tuesday Forte's barrister, Keith Spencer Bl told Mr Justice Charles Meenan that the five-month sentence, which will run consecutive to the nine-month term, means his client has effectively been "sentenced twice for the same matter by two different courts."

The DPP counsel said has in this instance have "breached the principle of double jeopardy."

Counsel said the fact his client had no insurance when the crash occurred "formed a major part in Circuit Court Judge Keenan Johnson's considerations" when he sentenced Forte. 

Counsel said when the matter was before the Circuit Court Judge Johnson heard that Forte, of Dublin,  had been driving without insurance on the night of the crash.

The Judge also remarked that Forte had one of the worst records that he ever heard for driving without insurance.

When handing down the sentence Judge Johnson placed particular emphasis on the fact Forte had been driving without insurance and said it was the main aggravating factor in the case. 

Counsel said the charge against Forte of driving with insurance that came before the District Court on May 15 should have been considered by the Circuit Court, and not have gone before the District Court.

Following counsel's submissions, Forte secured permission from the judge  to bring an action against the Director of Public Prosecutions against the five-month sentence he received at the district court

In his action, Forte seeks orders including one quashing the conviction he received for driving without insurance and the five-month prison sentence he received at the District Court.

Forte also seeks a declaration that the sentence he received was not in accordance with law and breaches his right under Article 38.1 of the Irish Constitution.

Counsel, instructed by Niall O'Connor & Co Solicitors, said his client also seeks an order quashing an order made at the Circuit Court which incorrectly states his client was convicted of an offence of dangerous driving causing death.

It was accepted by the DPP that Forte admitted to, was convicted of and sentenced for the offence of careless driving causing death, counsel said.

Permission to bring the action was granted on an ex-parte basis, where only one side was present in court.

The Judge who noted that Forte is not challenging the lawfulness of his detention adjourned the case to a date in June.

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