Monday 23 October 2017

Men jailed over fatal crash have 123 road convictions

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

TWO men jailed yesterday for dangerous driving causing the deaths of two teenagers have 123 road traffic convictions between them.

And the drivers were both disqualified at the time of the fatal high-speed chase during which the cars reached up to 120kmh in a 50kmh zone.

James Simms (28), who has cerebral palsy, absconded from Shelton Abbey Prison two months before the fatal accident, while Philip Murphy (40) was on bail challenging a jail sentence for burglary at the time.

Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard both men also have multiple previous convictions for dangerous driving, driving without insurance and a licence and failing to stop for gardai.

Murphy was jailed for six years and Simms was jailed for four years after both were convicted last week of dangerous driving causing the death of CJ Dolan (16) and Derry O'Callaghan (19) on May 13 last.

When his jail term was imposed, Simms winked at a friend in the public gallery.

Both were unanimously convicted by a circuit court jury after a three-week trial.

The two teenagers, who were back-seat passengers, died when the Ford Mondeo car, driven by Simms, crashed into the gable-end of a house on Cork's Harbour View Road after a high-speed chase with a Volkswagen Golf driven by Murphy.

At one point, the two vehicles reached speeds of 120kmh in a heavily built-up residential area where the speed limit is 50kmh.

Seconds before the crash, the Mondeo began to lose control after attempting to take a corner at high speed -- and it was then struck from behind by Murphy's Golf. The Mondeo was wrecked in the impact with the house and Mr Dolan sustained a fractured skull while Mr O'Callaghan suffered fatal blunt-force trauma to his chest.

Simms was injured in the crash, while Murphy attempted to flee the scene on foot before being arrested by gardai.

Gardai said the high-speed chase was linked to a bitter family feud on Cork's northside.

Mr Dolan and Mr O'Callaghan were described as innocent parties who were merely passengers in the Mondeo when the trouble flared up.


Sgt Brendan Kelly told the court that Simms, who was originally from Belfast, had a total of 99 previous convictions -- 92 of which are for Road Traffic Act offences.

Simms, of Adelaide Terrace, Cork and who was homeless for a time, received a three-year prison term in 2008 for endangerment (while driving).

In March 2009 he was disqualified from driving for 10 years -- but absconded from Shelton Abbey Prison on March 31, 2001.

Sgt Kelly said that Murphy, of 58 Killala Gardens, Knocknaheeny, Co Cork, was a reformed heroin addict who has 76 previous convictions, 31 of which relate to the Road Traffic Act.

In 2006, he was disqualified from driving for five years -- and, last May, was on bail pending a challenge to a six-month sentence imposed by Clonakilty District Court for burglary.

In imposing sentence, Judge Patrick Moran said it was a very serious case with shocking consequences for the Dolan and O'Callaghan families.

"This was an horrific, appalling and shocking kind of driving on this particular day," he said.

"I accept there were other circumstances which triggered it off. But the attack on Murphy's car by some people in the Simms car was the real trigger," he added.

The windscreen of Murphy's Golf was shattered -- but he still drove off in pursuit of Simms' car at high speed.

Judge Moran backdated both sentences to run from when Murphy and Simms were taken into custody.

Irish Independent

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