Monday 20 November 2017

Mum begs judge not to jail sister for crash that killed two children

Accused Vera Murden, second left, leaving court yesterday with friends and family
Accused Vera Murden, second left, leaving court yesterday with friends and family
Jayden Murden, who was one when he passed away following the crash in January 2009
Jayden's sister Jenna, who was four when she died of her injuries in the crash

Elaine Keogh

A MOTHER yesterday asked a judge not to jail the sister who caused the deaths of her two children.

Vera Murden (40) was found guilty of dangerous driving causing the deaths of brother and sister Jenna (4) and Jayden (1) Murden following a five-day trial.

But the mother of the dead children, Denise Murden, told Judge Michael O'Shea that she did not want her sister to serve a custodial sentence.

Dundalk Circuit Criminal Court heard that that the SUV Vera Murden was driving crashed into a building on January 31, 2009.

The two children were back-seat passengers in the vehicle, which was travelling at between 81 and 110kph when it crashed near Maxwell's Row, Dundalk, Co Louth.

Jenna and Jayden were accompanied in the car by their brother John (13) and cousins Chloe (11) and Conor (11), all of whom survived.

Conor, who is Vera Murden's son, underwent several operations at Crumlin Children's Hospital having suffered a severed windpipe and broken neck.

None of the four children in the rear of the vehicle had seat belts on. There were no car seats or booster seats used either, the trial heard.

Suicide

The accused had tried to take an illegal right-hand turn when the vehicle went out of control and crashed.

Jenna died on February 24, 2009, and her brother died on the March 5, 2009.

Sentencing Vera Murden to a three-and-a-half year suspended jail term, the judge added that the attitude of her sister had been "extremely important".

Garda Sgt Ger Collins told the court yesterday that since the trial concluded there has been contact between Vera Murdern and the parents of the dead children.

"They are trying to rebuild their relationship and it will take time, a lot of time," Sgt Collins told the court.

The court heard Vera Murden, of Fatima Court, Dundalk, has been diagnosed as suffering from chronic post-traumatic stress disorder and has made several attempts at suicide.

She was particularly close to her niece who frequently slept over in her house on Friday nights.

Giollaiosa O Lideadha, defending, said his client "can't stop blaming herself".

The judge said it was "an extremely tragic case" and that the accused has expressed genuine remorse.

He said the loss to the parents of their children was "incalculable," and they were "extraordinary, caring and forgiving people".

Irish Independent

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