A mechanic who struck a man with his car and then reversed over him, causing serious and permanent head injuries, has been jailed for four and half years.
Ian Kelly (36) of Castle Terrace, Phibsboro pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving causing serious injury to Keith Lawless at the Topaz Garage in Hartstown, Dublin on March 24, 2012.
Judge Martin Nolan told Kelly, when he first heard evidence last month, that his actions had left the victim with “devastating injuries”.
Kelly drove at Mr Lawless and his friend after the victim’s friend intervened in a public row in which Kelly was screaming at his girlfriend.
“Mr Lawless will never be the same again for the rest of his life. His capacity for life and for work has been greatly interfered with. He will be living every day with the consequences of what happened,” said Judge Nolan.
Judge Nolan rejected an offer of €10,000 compensation put forward by Kelly and his mother, advising instead that Mr Lawless would have an “open and shut case” if he took a civil suit against Kelly.
He said Kelly had very good mitigation and seemed to be a good, hard-working family man who was capable of contributing to society. But he said that on the scale of dangerous driving, this offence was close to the height.
Today Judge Nolan sentenced Kelly to four and half years in prison and disqualified him from driving for four years.
The court heard that bones were broken in Mr Lawless' neck, his skull was caved in and he suffered multiple head fractures and a brain bleed when Kelly reversed his car over him.
Mr Lawless was carried for 10 to 12 feet under the car and was found unconscious and bleeding.
Detective Garda Paul Tallon told Anne Rowland BL, prosecuting, that events began after Kelly and his former girlfriend had a row on a night out. The couple had been drinking pints and shots in town and took separate taxis to the Topaz garage in Hartstown.
Meanwhile, Mr Lawless and his friend Clinton Ferguson had been watching a game in a Hartstown pub and went to the Topaz garage forecourt to withdraw money from an ATM.
A conversation took place between Kelly's girlfriend, Tara Rowan and both Mr Lawless and Mr Ferguson at about 3am. Kelly arrived and began screaming at his girlfriend, after which Mr Ferguson called Kelly a “woman-basher”.
Kelly left the scene and came back in his car said “You're getting it, I'm going to kill you,” and then drove at Mr Ferguson.
Kelly drove into the forecourt and hit his girlfriend with the car, causing her to spin with the impact, and then struck Mr Lawless. Mr Lawless was thrown into the air and fell to the ground and Kelly reversed the car over him.
Kelly was arrested a short time later and said he “thought” he had crashed into someone and was sorry for what he had done.
The victim suffered post-traumatic amnesia and continuing impairment of his speech, vision, balance, memory, learning, concentration and behaviour.
A victim impact report described Mr Lawless as “a shell of the person he used to be”. He can no longer work as a roofer or play sport like he used to.
Caroline Biggs SC, defending, said Kelly was extremely remorseful for what he had done and could not come to terms with it despite undergoing counselling.
Letters were handed to court from Kelly's former and current employers describing him as an honourable hard-working, honest man.