Sunday 21 January 2018

No memory of collision, says drunk driver who killed man

Emmanuel Mendes: killed
Emmanuel Mendes: killed

Gareth Naughton

A DRUNK driver who caused the death of a 24-year-old man when he drove the wrong way down a dual carriageway told an inquest that he has no recollection of the incident.

Ronan Cunningham, from Kingscourt in Co Cavan, told Dublin Coroner's Court that he only remembers lying on the side of the road after the accident, which claimed the life of Emmanuel Mendes, from Monasterevin, Co Kildare, in the early hours of October 10, 2010.

He had spent the previous evening watching darts and drinking at the CityWest Hotel.

Sgt Shay Leonard told the court that CCTV footage shows Cunningham staggering to his car and then driving away in the correct direction.

However, he reaches a roundabout, travels around it and back on to the N7 in the wrong direction. He then travels for 7km before crashing into Mr Mendes's silver BMW near Rathcoole.

The dead man, who was originally from South Africa, was travelling home with his fiance Latoya Scott after celebrating her birthday with dinner.

Ms Scott told the court that she saw "a flash of light" coming towards them and before she could say anything the crash happened.

"I tried to put my hand out to stop Emmanuel hitting anything. I couldn't find or feel him until the car came to a stop," she said.

Mr Mendes was trapped in the wreckage and was going in and out of consciousness. He was subsequently freed by firefighters and taken to Tallaght Hospital where he died shortly after arrival.

Cunningham was not significantly injured despite his car flipping over and landing on its roof. A blood sample showed that he was almost twice the then legal limit.

The court heard that he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and drink driving at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. He was given a five-year suspended sentence.

Sgt Leonard said the DPP was currently appealing the sentence.

Speaking after the jury returned a verdict of death by third-party dangerous driving, the dead man's aunt, Patricia Mendes, said that she hoped the DPP would be successful in appealing the sentence which she described as "disappointing".

Irish Independent

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